A few days ago I discussed a WSJ editorial that critiqued the Texas Legislature’s attempt to reduce the testing in Texas. They had called less testing “lowering the bar.” I also quickly analyzed the author’s charter chains college readiness data— which showed, not surprisingly, that their chain was underperforming the state by wide margins. Well, TAMSA has responded in the Wall Street Journal. Following a high-stakes testing cartoon that my sister posted on Facebook, I have pasted their response for your viewing pleasure.
TAMSA’s response in the WSJ:
As parents of Texas public-school students and founding members of Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, we were surprised to see Tamsa described as “anti-testing” (“Doing a Texas Two-Step Around Education Reform” by Charles Cook and Terrence Moore, Cross Country, March 9).
Tamsa, a grass-roots statewide bipartisan organization, is pro-testing and pro-accountability. However, we want those tests to be meaningful. Tamsa supports a mix of nationally respected tests and Texas-designed criterion-referenced tests that ensure students are being taught the Texas curriculum.
However, unlike Messrs. Cook and Moore, we don’t confuse excessive testing with high standards and accountability. Texas currently requires a student to pass 15 separate high-stakes tests to graduate from high school on the recommended plan, yet no four-year college recognizes those tests for admission. Tamsa believes the SAT or ACT (exams colleges actually use to assess readiness), along with three Texas-designed exams, will provide a much more accurate picture of how high schools are doing.
Our beliefs reflect the Texas truism: “To make a cow gain weight, you don’t just keep weighing it—you need to feed it.” No one is suggesting we lower our standards and stop teaching rigorous and engaging lessons about the Constitution or Shakespeare. The reality is that simply testing students ad nauseam does not in fact make those students smarter—it makes them better test takers, and definitely leaves less time for learning.
Joe Straus, the speaker of the Texas House, noted earlier this year, “The goal of education is not to teach children how to pass a test, but to prepare them for life.” As parents of Texas students, we share that goal.