Yo, Stop Jivin': New Accountability is Retro— Still Rockin Tests

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Zoinks! With gobs of kangblabla Michael Williams, current Texas Education Commissioner and former Railroad Commissioner, recently announced the 2013 Texas Accountability approach:

I have heard the criticism of the previous accountability system, with its overemphasis on a school’s lowest performing areas and its blind spot to what a district or charter might be doing well…The new system makes use of multiple indicators to provide parents and taxpayers a more detailed overview of the successes, as well as areas of necessary improvement, for each school district, charter and campus.

Is he yanking our chain?

Let’s pardy hardy and play a drinking game (and pass the j). You take a shot of tequila every time the “new” accountability system includes the use of a test. Cool?

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Whats the skinny? Here is the new system.

  • Student Achievement – Represents a snapshot of performance across all subjects, on both general [drink] and alternative assessments [drink], at an established performance standard [drink]. (All Students [drink])
  • Student Progress – Provides an opportunity for diverse campuses to show improvements [drink] made independent of overall achievement levels [drink]. Growth [drink] is evaluated by subject [drink] and student group [drink](All Students  [drink]; Student Groups by Race/Ethnicity [drink]; English Language Learners [drink]; Special Education [drink])
  • Closing Performance Gaps – Emphasizes advanced academic achievement [drink] of the economically disadvantaged student group [drink] and the lowest performing race/ethnicity student groups [drink] at each campus [drink] or district [drink]. (All Students [drink]; Student Groups by Race/Ethnicity [drink])
  • Postsecondary Readiness – Includes measures of high school completion [drink— 15 times because you have to pass 15 tests to graduate], and beginning in 2014, State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) performance at the postsecondary readiness standard [drink]. This measure emphasizes the importance of students receiving high school diplomas that provide the foundation necessary for success in college, the workforce, job training programs or the military. (All Students [drink]; Student Groups by Race/Ethnicity [drink]; English Language Learners [drink]; Special Education [drink])

Wowzers. Williams really knows how to get down with tests. fo’ sh”izz”le. Ok, nix the tequila idea— that many shots would be bogue. This is test-city. Williams, take a chill pill on the tests man.

Bummer. Instead of multiple measures and less emphasis on testing, Williams is rockin tests in even more ways than before. What a fry! He is harshing my mellow! Here are the  “Commissioner of Education’s Final Decisions. Zetus-Lapeduz! Thats jive man.

To the “reformers” that are thinking that I am an anti-reformer: There are mucho wackoid ideas out there than bogarting Pearson company STAAR tests scores 39 ways into an doggish “index” and calling it multiple indicators. No duhHow about Community-Based Accountability, a zooky-zooky multiple measures approach derived from the local level rather than the commissioner’s office or DC? Can you dig it?

Catch you on the flip~side 4-sho.  A.F.A. Peace, love and granola.

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Categories: Accountability, High-Stakes Testing

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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3 Comments on “Yo, Stop Jivin': New Accountability is Retro— Still Rockin Tests”

  1. Monty Thornburg
    April 26, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    What a curious world!

    Two days ago, on this blog, we responded to the idea that “Blacks/Latinos are Naughty and that Race/Racism has been Expunged” and shame on those who still think that “Race Matters” in America. Chester Finn, I think as a conservative, was/is politically aligned with those in power in Texas. In addition to the Bush family, Gov. Perry was drafted by Republicans to run against President Obama; until. Until, among other things, it was found that Gov. Perry’s hunting ranch was named after the “N” word with “Head” attached.

    Now today, in Texas, the land of apparent cronyism where the new Education Commissioner was previously the Railroad Commissioner, we have learned of a “new” accountability system that includes the same old tests. The difference is that in this new system, there are three new sub-group measures. One of those sub-groups is “Race and Ethnicity” (not SES for example) – go figure! I guess Race is not expunged in Texas!

    Does this have any relationship to why Texas opted out of President Obama’s Common Core Standards approach?

  2. April 27, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    I’m not surprised about the commissioner’s suggestions which haven’t taken any thought processes at all. It is so simple a task, for a person who has no knowledge of how students are taught. Planning instruction is not a simple task. Knowing your subject content, knowing your students, identifying multiple teaching strategies and methods of assessment are things that a professional educator employs.
    Having an attorney head TEA who has no such skills or thinking pattern is akin to a historian heading the State Board of Engineers. They’re all educated, just in non-complementing fields.

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