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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on Developing a Test Taker's Bill of Rights

2000 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Since the 1970s language and literacy professionals consistently and increasingly have been concerned about the nature, uses, and abuses of standardized testing. In fact, NCTE has passed numerous resolutions addressing these concerns. Although NCTE continues to be concerned about standardized testing, particularly high stakes testing at all levels, we recognize that testing is a pervasive feature of American education. However, the practices surrounding high stakes testing vary dramatically from state to state. Some states, for example, have passed legislation requiring disclosure of test forms and items. Other states insist on secrecy and deny access to the test at the potential expense of students and teachers. It seems especially important, then, that standards of open practice that allow for public scrutiny surrounding testing be developed and disseminated. A test taker’s bill of rights would include items such as:

  • the right to insist that standardized tests be adopted through an open, public process that considers the design and appropriateness of the test;
  • the right to know before the test date the form of any given test;
  • the right to experience a challenging curriculum that is not constrained by any given test;
  • the right to know how the results of the test will be used;
  • the right to arrange accommodations for documented learning differences and/or unforeseeable circumstances;
  • the right to display competencies through various means;
  • the right to an open process of review of test items and results;
  • the right to challenge test scores and have them changed if they are incorrect; and
  • the right to a process that corrects tests and/or individual items found to be invalid or unreliable.

Be it therefore


RESOLVED, that the National Council of Teachers of English, in conjunction with other professional and public policy organizations and learned societies, develop a Test Taker’s Bill of Rights.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCTE encourage decision-making groups at the district, state, and federal levels to adopt a Test Taker’s Bill of Rights in order to protect students, parents, teachers, and the general public.

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