Department Offers Guidance on Using NCLB Funds to Reduce Testing

On February 2, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance to chief state school officers on how No Child Left Behind (NCLB) funds in effect through the 2016-2017 school year may be used to “eliminate redundancy and ensure efficacy and quality of assessment.” You might recall that the Department released a Testing Action Plan in October 2015 to reduce the overtesting of our nation’s youth.

The guidance elaborates on what the Department views as principles for good assessments. The principles state that every assessment should be

  • Worth taking
  • High quality
  • Time limited
  • Fair, and supportive of fairness, in equity in educational opportunity
  • Fully transparent to students and parents
  • Just one of multiple measures
  • Tied to improved learning

The letter also provides examples of activities that could leverage these funds to support fewer, smarter, high-quality assessments. These activities include conducting assessment audits, developing educators’ ability to manage and analyze student data to improve instruction, improving quality of assessments, and increasing transparency between the state and local PK-12 stakeholders, including parents.

If you or members of your department have expertise in areas addressed in the guidance, please maintain communication with your local education agencies and key state-level officials who are implementing the transition from NCLB to the new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Lending your expertise, energy, and support as this transition to ESSA is implemented will deepen your partnerships, roles, and engagement on the educator profession pipeline.

The Department’s press release can be found here.

You can register for e-mail updates on ESSA here and news on ESSA here

You can send questions to the Department about ESSA via

Feel free to contact me with questions at

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Deborah Koolbeck

Senior Director of Government Relations, AACTE