Failing the Test

While good intentions no doubt drove the imposition of the state’s increasingly heavy-handed testing regimen for schools (well, good intentions, plus a big pay-day for a politically connected, London-based publishing firm), righteous outrage from parents and teachers alike is forcing Texas lawmakers to dial down the intensity.

STAAR

The new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test required schools to count the results as 15 percent of a senior’s grade. Today, Education Commissioner Michael Williams issued a reprieve from the requirement for one more year, at the behest of Governor Perry and many concerned parents and teachers.

This is good news no doubt, but it’s a temporary solution for a permanent problem – something the legislature is already being pressured to address.

State Sen. Dan Patrick of Harris County, one of our Taxpayer Champions, has introduced legislation that let’s school districts decide whether they count the test as 15 percent of a senior’s final grade. Another measure, introduced by Taxpayer Advocate and Houston State Rep. Dan Huberty, would eliminate the “15%” provision entirely.

Leading the charge to overrun schools with heavy-handed mandates has been the big-business lobby. Despite what shills at the Texas Association for (rent-seeking) Business and others claim, state tests don’t guarantee academic success. They just put more restraint on the creativity of teachers and parents in reaching kids.

Schools must absolutely be accountable for performance – but to whom? The state? Or parents? Accountability programs and standardized tests might provide some interesting data, but it’s parents and teachers who are the ones actually educating the kids.

It’s the parents and teachers who should have the greater say in the tests used… and how much adequately those tests really measure the true academic readiness of the student.




Image Source: Fickr Creative Commons

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael is president and CEO of Empower Texans, and its premier project, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capital Hill staffer, think tank vice president and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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