Should Texas Schools Drop Standardized Achievement Testing?

By Morgan Montalvo

WOAI News 

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.


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