Legislator pre-files bill to limit testing time in Kentucky classrooms

State Rep. Darryl Owens has pre-filed a bill to limit testing time in Kentucky classrooms, allow teachers more instructional time and decrease “teaching to the test” practices.

Under the legislation, beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, tests authorized as part of the state assessment program could not collectively consume more than 5 percent of any student’s instructional time during an instructional year.

“Teachers who are stifled by testing mandates and parents whose children are overwhelmed by incessant tests are seeking relief to ensure more realistic and positive learning experiences in the classroom,” Owens, D-Louisville, said in a news release.

The news release said testing preparation and administration can consume as much as 25 percent of student and teacher time every year.

Fayette County Education Association president Jessica Hiler said, “As part of the Kentucky Education Association lobby team, we have yet to take an official position on this bill.”

The Jefferson County Teachers Association supports Owens’ bill.

“By reducing the amount of standardized testing and test prep, teachers will be able to focus on teaching methods that have proven records of success, including project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and authentic assessment, all designed to promote a more positive and engaging public education experience that will help our students succeed,” Brent McKim, Jefferson County Teachers Association president, said in the news release.

Teachers in Jefferson County Public Schools administer more than 320 diagnostic and proficiency tests to students each year, in addition to the more than 90 that are required by the state and federal government, the news release said.

Jefferson County teachers report that students lose between three and five weeks of instruction time each year to mandated and required tests, according to the release.

Kentucky Department of Education officials had not completed a review of the bill Monday.

“There are efforts under way in Washington to address this issue, but we know how slow the wheels of progress grind in Congress, and Kentucky simply cannot wait for their solution,” Owens said. “The legislature has the responsibility to help our students and teachers thrive and succeed, and this bill will empower them to do that.”

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears