Among the many opportunities Teach Plus teachers have to provide feedback to policymakers, few can come close to sitting down for an hour-long conversation about a key issue with the president of the United States. This is exactly what Teaching Policy Fellowship alumni Bootsie Battle-Holt (LA) and Farida Mama (MA) were able to do when they discussed over-testing with President Barack Obama in an Oval Office meeting. Teach Plus was the only organization invited to send teachers to meet with the president, and Bootsie and Farida were the only two teachers in the room. The meeting followed the Administration’s announcement of its October 2015 Testing Action Plan, which focused on streamlining the number of assessments in schools and improving assessment quality.
Bootsie and Farida spoke about the need for rigorous assessments that can serve students instead of detracting from students and teachers’ time and resources. “As I listened to the president speak, it was very clear to me that he cares deeply about the teaching and learning that happen in all schools across the country. President Obama also clarified that placing a limit on testing does not mean throwing testing out altogether, and that ‘assessments are tools for learning and promoting equity,’” wrote Farida. Read more about the teachers’ meeting with the president in Farida’s op-ed in Education Week Teacher and in this Washington Post feature story.