As some may remember, it was President Bush in 2002 who introduced the No Child Left Behind Act that authorized the use of Title I federal funding to be distributed amongst states that pushed their students to become proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014. The assessment of that proficiency came in the form of standardized tests mandated in grades 3-8 and once during high school. It has been highly controversial due to different states having different standards, overwhelming amounts of testing in schools, test preparation replacing standard curriculum, etc.
For the first six years of his administration, President Obama has not done much to change this mandate, drawing much skepticism from teachers all over the country.
As the Philadelphia Public School Notebook notes, the Obama Administration has "spent the last year encouraging states and districts to make sure that assessments are of high quality and don't take up too much instructional time." The new Action Plan, in fact, requires that testing take no more than 2% of the yearly instructional time. I very much hope that this desire comes into some kind of fruition.
I am, however, skeptical of some of the timing of this. They state as an example, New York:
New York has worked to limit the amount of time students spend on required state- and district-level standardized tests – no more than 1 percent of instructional time for state-required standardized tests, and 1 percent for locally required standardized tests. To support this work, New York also established a “Teaching is the Core” competitive grant which supported teams of administrators and teachers in reviewing all assessments given, eliminating unnecessary ones, and improving the quality of assessments by making them more performance-based.
I look forward to hearing more but am watching with a careful eye.