March 23, 2023

NEWS: Rep. Jamaal Bowman Introduces Legislation to End Over-testing in Schools, and Unlock Children’s Brilliance

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16) unveiled the More Teaching Less Testing Act, a proposal reflecting decades of educator and family-led advocacy and activism to align education with lifelong learning rather than with the standardized testing regime. Supported by the nation’s largest teacher’s unions and civil rights organizations, this legislation takes critical steps to make classroom teaching  time a priority over annual standardized  test preparation and test administration.

 “We need a revolution in our public schools that unlocks the brilliance of all our kids and cultivates a generation equipped to take on 21st century challenges,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman Ed.D. (NY-16). “This means valuing diverse intelligence and fostering school cultures grounded in joyful, rigorous learning across a wide range of subjects and skills. We must end the over use, abuse, and misuse of standardized testing in our schools, and trade a broken metric for a system that empowers educators and communities to excite, inspire, and challenge their students. Our already underfunded schools should not be forced to spend valuable time and resources teaching to the test. Kids deserve experiential learning opportunities, and the time and space to play, discover, and create. These pursuits cannot be bubbled in on a multiple choice scan sheet.”

 “My More Teaching Less Testing Act scales back annual summative assessment requirements, gives states more flexibility through a new menu of assessment options, dramatically increases authorized funding for Title I schools to support educators and schools in meeting their students’ holistic needs, and supports balanced, innovative assessment systems that do not inappropriately punish students, teachers, or schools based on a single test score. We must build an education system that fosters and unlocks the unlimited gifts of our children, but requiring states to annual assess every student disproportionately harms Black and brown students and students with disabilities, narrows the curricula to tested content, disempowers educators from leading authentically, and punishes schools by threatening to cut off funding or close schools. Educators should be empowered to use authentic, evidence-based formative assessment practices embedded within project-based, culturally competent, and engaging learning opportunities that meet the needs of the whole child.” 


Specifically, the More Teaching Less Testing Act will:

  • Build on the flexibility of ESSA, promote ways to improve assessment and accountability for the ultimate purpose of increasing student learning opportunities, and address one of the several interconnected factors exacerbating the nationwide teacher shortage.
  • Allow states more flexibility to administer summative assessments and design assessment systems that support high quality teaching and learning. The bill would eliminate the current federally mandated testing schedule for summative assessments in math, reading & language arts, and science, and instead establish a menu of options for states to choose from.
  • Engage educators, school leaders, families and advocates in determining an appropriate limitation on assessment and test preparation time.
  • Establish an Assessment Taskforce to Evaluate Testing Practices and Recommend Assessment Practices that Promote High Quality Teaching
  • Authorize $66 billion annually for Title I – quadruple the current authorized funding level – to correct chronic underfunding of our public schools and prioritize public education in our federal budget.
  • Scale up and improve ESSA’s Innovative Assessment Demonstration program. The bill would authorize $100 million annually for the program, marking the first time the pilot program has gotten an authorization of dedicated funds.
  • Prohibit states from using federally mandated statewide assessments as the sole or dominant factor for large-scale retention policies, high school graduation decisions, teacher evaluations, or school rating systems.


“For decades, educators and parents alike have been telling anyone who would listen that using standardized test scores to evaluate students and teachers was actually impeding students’ education,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “This fixation on testing simply told us to teach to the test, crowding out the projects, teamwork, debate, art, music, and anything not measured by a bubble sheet. And rather than focus on critical thinking, problem solving and classwork guided by teachers, it has led to a fixation on test prep. This bill—from an educator, of course—takes a big first step in fixing these requirements through common sense flexibility, and an approach based on the whole child and their learning experience. I thank Representative Bowman for bringing the educator perspective, and offering a bill that clears the way for schools to focus on what kids need—teaching and learning that fosters joy, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.”

“Our education system is under attack across the nation, which is why we must work diligently in ensuring Black and Brown children have the ability to learn and grow,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network (NAN). “More than ever we need federal leadership to build up schools, rethink how students learn, and focus on teaching them how to solve tomorrow’s problems.”

“Accountability testing was supposed to serve equity but has done just the opposite,” said University of Colorado Boulder Distinguished Professor and Past President of the American Educational Research Association Lorrie Shepard, PhD. “This bill addresses decades of evidence showing what happens when teaching in the poorest communities is made to imitate multiple-choice tests … and all the joys of teaching and of learning are lost." 

“This bill corrects the imbalance between testing and teaching. More than two decades since the advent of No Child Left Behind, we know for a fact that repeatedly measuring test-score gaps won’t close the nation’s inexcusable opportunity gaps,” said Director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder Kevin Welner, PhD. “It’s time we shifted from our testing mania to a sustained commitment to providing children and their schools with the resources they need to be successful.” 


Click here to read a summary of the bill.

Click here to read the section-by-section of the bill.


Original co-sponsors of the legislation include: Reps. Frederica Wilson, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Greg Casar, Donald M. Payne Jr., Shontel Brown, Nydia Velázquez, Pramila Jayapal, Adriano Espaillat, Delia Ramirez, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Rashida Tlaib, Sheila Jackson Lee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ayanna Pressley, Jasmine Crockett, Summer Lee, Nikema Williams, Maxwell Frost

Organizations endorsing include: American Federation of Teachers (AFT), NAACP, National Education Association (NEA), National Indian Education Association, Network for Public Education, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Alliance for Quality Education, Class Size Matters, New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), FairTest, New York Performance Standards Consortium, Long Island Opt Out, NYC Opt Out, Advocates for Public Education Policy, NAACP New Rochelle, Education Law Center, Rethinking Schools, National Educators United, Arizona Educators United, National Association for Multicultural Education – GA Chapter, Public Advocacy for Kids, Opt Out Georgia, Support Our Students, Community Voices for Public Education, First Focus Campaign for Children, Texas Kids Can’t Wait, Citizens for Public Schools, Schools and Communities United, Illinois Families for Public Schools, Fairplay, Schools and Communities United, Educators for Democratic Schools, Illinois Federation of Teachers