School Officials: High Stakes Tests Failing Students
A backlash is growing in Texas education circles against the emphasis on standardized testing that's required under the federal No Child Left Behind Law. The rebellion started with parents and teachers, and now it has spread to principals and school district administrators in a number of Texas counties.
A mounting chorus of educators including administrators, teachers and parents is speaking out against a system in which they say testing has eclipsed teaching.
At least 40 school boards across the state have taken a public stand by passing resolutions that decry the "over reliance on standardized, high-stakes testing" they say is "strangling our public schools."
The resolutions ask state legislators to develop a new accountability system that uses multiple measures to assess student progress or to consider random sampling tests.
Parents are getting involved. The Texas Parents Opt Out movement is encouraging parents to keep their children at home on testing days, and the State Board of Education has scheduled an April 18 public hearing on testing.
Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott told the State Board of Education in January that the high-stakes testing culture has become "the heart of the vampire." A few days later, he repeated the statement at a conference of school administrators, calling for a system that measures "every other day of a school's life besides testing day." Scott got a standing ovation.
Administrators stress they are not against accountability. They're against a system they say only produces good test takers, but leaves no room to teach critical thinking.
"The Legislature needs to pay more attention to experts. They are called teachers," said State Board of Education member George Clayton. "As an educator, I see it every day. Everything is testing, testing, testing. We graduate seniors who have never written a research paper because it's not on the test."
At last. Teachers, parents, school boards and state education officials finally appear to be taking a stand against testing that does nothing but make schools and school districts look good, but does very little to advance the education of our children.