The San Diego Unified school board on Tuesday narrowly voted down a bid to put a moratorium on testing that the school district administers on top of state-mandated tests.

School board member John Lee Evans, who proposed the moratorium, said it would make the tests optional, not ban them entirely. Such tests are administered by the school district on top of mandated state tests under No Child Left Behind. There was confusion earlier this year among teachers, principals and district staffers about whether or not all of them are mandatory.

Evans decried the “testing mania that has developed in this country,” and said numerous teachers had complained to him about the volume of testing and the classroom time the tests consume. He proposed halting testing for the remainder of the school year while the school district studies whether the tests are useful. Last month, the school board established a committee to study the issue.

Several teachers spoke out in support of the tests. Sharon Johnson, who teaches at Marvin Elementary, said the assessments help her pinpoint problems so that kids don’t have to do “rote practice” in areas they have already mastered. Surveys conducted by San Diego Unified show mixed opinions among teachers about the tests and whether they are worth the time they take. They are more widely supported by administrators, whose association president, Grant Elementary principal Bruce McGirr, also spoke in favor of keeping the tests.

The measure was defeated by school board members John de Beck, Shelia Jackson, and Katherine Nakamura. Evans and school board member Richard Barrera voted in favor of the plan.

EMILY ALPERT

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