Texas’ Testing Revisions Make Headlines

Even in the Big Apple, the fact that the state that started the accountability movement is considering backtracking is newsworthy.

Motoko Rich’s piece in today’s New York Times highlights the importance of the debate happening right here in our state, and discusses the same tension I mentioned in my post last week: how do we balance the desire to have high standards for all students while not overwhelming students and teachers with time-consuming and expensive tests?

Coincidentally, this article highlights Akins High School, where I’m an MSSW Intern. Akins’ Principal Girard, quoted in the article, makes a valid point that lowering standards equals a risk that not all kids will be equally encouraged or pushed to achieve. I wish I didn’t agree that we adults need rules lest we let some kids slip through the cracks – but I think America’s gaping achievement gap shows that the honor system doesn’t cut it. When we trust the system to treat all kids the same, low income and minority kids lose big.

At the same time, I agree with the parent who noted that 9 of the last 12 weeks of school are impacted by testing – that’s insanity.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, where is the middle ground?

Can’t we have high standards, ones that drive kids to the limits of their potential, AND a number of tests that is reasonable (e.g., not 15 when no other state has more than 6)?

I think the answer is a pretty straightforward, resounding YES – but sadly I don’t see the political will for that kind of a compromise in Texas. Despite a few Dems’ best efforts (Van De Putte, Strama), I just don’t see those kinds of proposals moving forward.

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