Happy Memorial Day! On this day I remember my grandfather and all the courageous men and women who fought for freedoms.
As of today, Memorial Day 2013, it appears that House Bill 5 is headed to Gov. Perry’s desk and that students in Texas will get some freedom from high-stakes testing— at least on the secondary level. Texas currently requires more than 30 exams in K-12— 15 exams alone to graduate from high school. With the passage of HB5, it appears that now five tests will be required for graduation. Five tests is still more than the TAKS testing regime which required 4 exams to graduate from high school. (If you loosely based the generations of accountability in Texas on the testing regime, you could say that with the STAAR, Texas is in the midst of its third generation of accountability— Pre-NCLB TAAS being the first and Post-NCLB TAKS the second).
MSNBC reported today:
The state that inaugurated the expansion of standardized testing in America’s schools 30 years ago and provided the model for the No Child Left Behind Act has now said enough is enough.
Late Sunday night, the Texas Legislature passed a bill that cuts the number of standardized tests for the state’s 1.4 million high schoolers from 15 – the nation’s highest total — to five. Gov. Rick Perry is expected to sign the bill within days.
“Legislators heard their friends, neighbors and constituents,” said education historian and native Texan Diane Ravitch, a former testing proponent and adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush who has now become testing’s most prominent foe. “This is proof that democracy works.”
For more on Texas role as a progenitor of high-stakes testing and accountability check out At-risk student averse: Risk management and accountability and Accountability Texas-style: The progress and learning of urban minority students in a high-stakes testing context.
See also the post High-Stakes Testing, Accountability and The Simpsons for a fabulous Simpsons episode about high-stakes testing.
A few months ago I wrote:
Excessive testing does not equal high standards… this is a fallacy that has permeated our educational policy since No Child Left Behind was imported from the state of Texas… Some districts in Texas spend almost 25% of their days testing. What is the point of testing for the test to test? How is less teaching and more testing raising standards? After more than two decades of trying to test our way to equality, Republicans and Democrats (prodded by TAMSA and others) in Texas have realized the fallacy of the argument that more testing is raising standards and that less testing is lowering standards. No matter how many speedometers you have on a car, they are all going to tell you that you are going the same speed.
No Child Left Behind still puts too much emphasis on testing as do the NCLB waivers and Race to the Top. Our educational policy must evolve to consider multiple measure approaches to assess the successes of students, schools, and districts. See Cloaking Inequity’s full thread on high-stakes testing here.
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