Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times has an article reporting on legislation that is being introduced in Texas to reduce the amount of testing in public high schools. Texas spawned test-based accountability in public schools and spearheaded one of the nation’s toughest high school curriculums. Lawmakers there are now considering a reversal that would cut back both graduation requirements and standardized testing. The article stated:
“The actions in Texas are being closely watched across the country as many states move to raise curriculum standards to meet the increasing demands of employers while grappling with critics who say testing has spun out of control.
The Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill this month that would reduce the number of exams students must pass to earn a high school diploma to 5, from 15. Legislators also proposed a change that would reduce the required years of math and science to three, from four. The State Senate is expected to take up a similar bill as early as this week.
The proposed changes have opened up a debate in the state and beyond. Proponents say teachers will be able to be more creative in the classroom while students will have more flexibility to pursue vocational or technically oriented courses of study…
Test critics also argue that standardized tests stifle experimentation in the classroom. “It turns our schools into these cookie-cutter manufacturing plants,” said Dineen Majcher, president of Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, a grass-roots group.
Some educators say the tests do not account for students who learn at different paces. “We expect every student to perform at certain levels with the same amount of time,” said H.D. Chambers, superintendent of the Alief Independent School District west of Houston. “That’s fundamentally flawed.”
But at a time when about half of the students who enroll in community colleges in Texas require remedial math classes, Michael L. Williams, the state’s commissioner of education, called the proposed changes “an unfortunate retreat.”
“What gets tested gets taught,” Mr. Williams said. “What we treasure, we measure.”
This legislation will indeed be watched closely by education policymakers around the country.