Friday, August 3, 2012

Calls for common sense when it comes to testing coming from all directions

As of Friday morning, 610 Texas school districts have notified TASA that they've passed the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing, representing more than 3.6 million students and nearly 60 percent of all districts in the state.

Superintendents and school board members are calling for an end to the over-reliance on standardized testing and say it's doing nothing less than strangling efforts to create a world-class education system for our children. Accountability is important, but educators have been saying for years that the methods currently used to rate schools is at best unreliable.

Now  a new study from the University of Texas of the new STAAR tests "suggests that they are virtually useless at measuring the effects of classroom instruction" according to an article in the Texas Tribune.

Even Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans, someone who is known to be at odds with superintendents on some issues, is saying it's time to re-think what we mean by accountability in public education.

In a blog post titled "Half-Billion For 'Virtually Useless' Test", Sullivan writes: 

Let’s be clear: accountability is important, but standardized tests don’t necessarily equate to anyone being held accountable — let alone educated. If the choice is between a classroom educator and a test developed by bureaucrats… go with the classroom educator. Every time.

That's exactly the point of the testing resolution. Public school leaders in Texas are attempting to transform public education from a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepare students to be competitive on a global stage. A test-driven education results in superficial learning, but a student-centered approach that encourage innovation, creativity and collaboration promotes deep and meaningful learning.

If your district hasn't passed the resolution yet, please consider doing so and let us know at TASA by emailing Denise Burns. Also, encourage your chambers, city councils and PTA/PTO's to do the same, as many across the state already have.

On a personal note, this will be my last blog post for EduSlate. I'm moving on to a new position as assistant director for public affairs for The University of Texas System. There will be a new voice on EduSlate in the coming weeks. You can still reach me on Twitter @jennycaputo.

It has been an honor to serve as spokesperson for TASA and our incredible members over the past two years. The school superintendents across our state work tirelessly every day to improve the lives of Texas children and give them the best opportunities in life and it's been a privilege to help support them in that effort.

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