Half-Billion For ‘Virtually Useless’ Test

For more than a year we’ve been calling for a moratorium on the statewide testing system on the basis that those dollars could be better spent educating kids. Now we found out that the test may be “virtually useless.” It’s time to seriously re-think what we mean by “accountability” in public education.


The Texas Tribune is reporting that a University of Texas researcher has found a “glitch” in the statewide STAAR tests that “suggests they are virtually useless at measuring the effects of classroom instruction.”

A London-based publishing company, Pearson, has a half-billion contract with the state to develop the tests for the state through 2015.

During the last legislative session, State Rep. Dan Flynn of Van suggested that — given the right fiscal times — there be a two-year moratorium placed on the tests so the dollars could be directed to the classroom. He and others correctly noted that the money and time being spent on developing yet another new statewide assessment could be better spent actually educating kids.

Parents and teachers overwhelmingly agreed.

Mr. Flynn introduced House Bill 2491 that would have placed a moratorium on the “assessments of certain public school students under the public school accountability system.” (TFR strongly supported the legislation.)

Taxpayer Champion Dan Flynn

Predictably, though, the big-government rent-seekers were furious. ‘How,’ they demanded, ‘could we have an educated Texas without an expensive battery of tests crafted by a foreign company?’ The lobby team went into overdrive and the payouts to Pearson were protected by the legislature.

Let’s be clear: accountability is important, but standardized tests don’t necessarily equate to anyone being held accountable — let alone educated. If the choice is between a classroom educator and a test developed by bureaucrats… go with the classroom educator. Every time.

As State Rep. Larry Phillips of Sherman said during the legislative session: “It’s time that we say enough testing, and enough testing all the time.”

Now comes credible, academic concern that this new expensive test, is useless as an accountability tool. Clearly, legislators should have listened to Mr. Flynn and their constituents.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael is president and CEO of Empower Texans. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol 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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