SANTA FE (KRQE) – Student testing has been a divisive issue in New Mexico in recent years, but a plan to reduce testing for some high school students has united education groups that are normally at odds with each other.

HB 97, carried by Rep. G. Andres Romero, D-Albuquerque, would save 9th and 10th graders around six hours of standardized testing time.

Romero says the idea for the bill came from a teacher he spoke with who asked whether a group of tests known as short cycle tests were excessive.

In 2007, lawmakers approved requiring high school freshmen and sophomores to take math, writing and reading assessments three times a year, known as short cycle tests. At the time, those grades weren’t required to take the PARCC or SBA test. Four years later, lawmakers approved a law requiring those grades take the PARCC on top of those short cycle tests.

“PARCC has taken the place of these [short cycle] tests so they’re no longer needed,” said Romero.

On that point, the Public Education Department, school districts, teachers unions, Democrats and Republicans seem to agree.

In a Legislative Education Study Committee analysis of the bill, the PED said eliminating those short cycle tests for 9th and 10th grades is “logical and aligns with the state’s current assessment system, which now requires summative testing of students in these grade levels.”

Teachers unions are thrilled with the proposed reduction in testing time too.

“Everytime you cut down on testing, you’re expanding learning time and that is the bottom line,” said Mary Cathryn Ricker with the American Federation of Teachers.

Another benefit, districts are likely to save some money from not having to administer those tests.

The bill cleared the House unanimously and was approved by the Senate Education committee unanimously Wednesday morning. It has one more committee and the full Senate left before it would make it to Governor Martinez’s desk.