Tester Fights to Reduce Federally Mandated Standardized Tests and Increase Flexibility in Montana Classrooms

Senator Joins Missoula Educators on First Week of School to Push His Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act

(Missoula, Mont.)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester today celebrated the first week of school in Missoula by pushing to reduce federally mandated standardized tests and increase flexibility in Montana classrooms.

Tester announced that he is introducing the Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act alongside students and educators at Missoula Sentinel High School. Tester’s bill will reduce the number of tests students are forced to take and provide more flexibility to teachers and local school districts.

“Teachers, parents, and students tell me that testing mandates have strangled creativity in our classrooms and burdened local schools with federal regulation,” Tester said. “This is a common sense approach that allows teachers to determine what’s best for their students and gives more power to local districts.”

The U.S. Department of Education currently mandates that students to take 17 standardized tests between third grade and graduation. Tester’s bill will only require students to take tests for math, science, and language once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school. Tester, a former teacher, argued that annual federal testing eats up valuable classroom time and requires teachers to ‘teach to the test,’ instead of tailoring their lesson plans to the individual needs of their students.

“This bill ensures students are spending more time learning and less time answering multiple choice questions,” Tester added.

Tester’s bill is supported by parents, teachers, and school administrators across Montana:

“Montana teachers know over utilization of standardized testing kills teacher and student time for quality classroom instruction,” said Eric Feaver, President of MEA-MFT. “I am grateful that Senator Tester knows this too and is doing something about it.”

“This bill will give teachers the freedom and autonomy to foster critical thinking, curiosity, and creativity throughout every student’s educational journey,” said Ted Fuller, Principal of Missoula Sentinel High School.

“As a former teacher, Senator Tester understands the precious value of classroom time and that minutes with students are a finite resources that must be used wisely,” said Melanie Charlson, President of the Missoula Education Association and a former teacher. “Senator Tester’s bill creates balance and accountability in education.”

“I believe students best interests’ are served by passing this legislation,” said Mark Thane, Superintendent of Missoula Public Schools. “It is high time for greater local control of assessments in our schools.”