We get new data on education constantly, and it rarely seems to be good. This week's: New York has fallen to seventh in the nation in the percentage of 11th- and 12th-graders taking advanced placement courses, from second in 2004, and only 37 percent of our public school seniors are college-ready. With that salt fresh in our wounds, the best thing that can be said about legislation to cut down on student testing recently introduced by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) is that there's no chance of it passing.
Israel wants to change testing in third through eighth grade for math and English from every year to every two years. That's a lousy idea, and not a great target for more federal mandates. We must know how kids are doing, and whether teachers and lessons are effective. Getting no objective data on students for two years undermines that. And the law would reduce testing to once every four years in math and English for schools in the top 15 percent of performance. Just because a school performs well doesn't mean we don't need to know when specific students or teachers are struggling. Where there is too much locally mandated testing, it should be reduced, but cutting crucial measuring sticks is no answer.