By Morgan Montalvo
Although New Mexico’s new governor last week suspended standardized testing in her state’s public schools, the head of a local teachers union says don’t look for Gov. Greg Abbott to follow suit, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
“Unfortunately, the governor and the lieutenant governor are firmly attached to that system,” Bexar County Federation of Teachers President Tom Cummins says of standardized testing in Texas.
During her third day in office, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Jan. 3 made good on a campaign promise to parents and ordered New Mexico education officials to halt the use of standardized testing to gauge student success, or use student scores to evaluate teachers.
Cummins says testing companies have friends in high places in Austin.
“The testing industry in Texas is a several-billion-dollar industry and there are too many lobbyists and special interests involved who want to keep it at a cost to the students’ learning, so we have a big challenge in front of us,” Cummins says.
New Mexico intends to replace standardized tests and teacher evaluations with “bottom-up” student success and teacher effectiveness instruments developed by working groups made up of classroom teachers, parents, and learning experts - not politicians, lobbyists, or testing company representatives.
Cummins says as the 2019 Texas Legislature explores ways to fund education, abandoning standard testing could, over time, plow billions of critically needed dollars back into instruction, remediation, and hiring additional educators to reduce student-to-teacher ratios.
In addition to more teachers, Cummins says, “We need to have more counselors, and we need to have those counselors working with our students closely rather than doing testing procedure duties, we need that money for after-school programs, we need it for tutoring.”
“Test prep,” as it’s known to Texas educators, drives much of the curriculum in districts across the state. In many of Texas’ low-performing districts practice testing known as benchmarking” or “interim testing,” test-taking strategy instruction, and often month-long preparation for “The Test” consumes 25 percent or more of the academic year calendar, all at additional expense to districts for materials, specially produced or commercially marketed student workbooks and activity kits, and faculty workshops conducted by outside testing “consultants” and “presenters.”
Under federal and state guidelines schools and districts that fail to meet “accountability” standards or show “progress” face a range of punitive measures.