Photo Credit: DairDair
Can it be that the pendulum is finally swinging back the other direction? This just in from Charles at Off the Kuff:
Stepping out of campaign coverage for a second, here’s a look ahead to some TAKS tinkering the Lege will take up next year.
Texas public school students could face less pressure on the TAKS test under a proposal that key lawmakers unveiled Tuesday to overhaul the state’s school accountability system.
Under the plan, elementary and middle school students would no longer have to pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test to advance to the next grade level.
Schools still would be held accountable for low test scores, but they would get credit for improvement — even if students fell short of certain targets.
While several parents and school leaders praised the proposed changes to the school grading system as being more fair, others expressed concern that Texas would be lowering its standards. The Legislature is expected to consider the idea, offered by a special House-Senate committee on school accountability, next year.
“What this proposal does is eliminate the high-stakes testing in elementary schools, and I think that’s a very positive development,” said Spring Branch Superintendent Duncan Klussmann.
The revamped school grading system, which would require extra help for the struggling students, also would base annual performance ratings on three years of test scores instead of a single year and would give credit for student improvement. Districts would get judged on their financial health, too.
Pasadena ISD Superintendent Kirk Lewis applauded the move to averaging scores, noting that under the current system a school could be stigmatized with a low rating if it barely missed the mark in one subject one year.
“I think it will be helpful in taking some of the pressure off the schools,” Kirk said. “I believe in accountability … but the tweaks they’re making, it appears it would be a positive improvement over what we’ve got.”
Legislative leaders concede weaknesses in the current system — which rates schools on TAKS scores, graduation rates and dropout rates — and they heard complaints from educators and parents during hearings around the state this year.
“We found that the TAKS was the main focus of a lot of our education efforts, and it’s a minimal-skills test,” said House Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands.
Standardized testing has its place, but I think the consensus after ten years of it here in Texas is that it’s become an end rather than a means to an end, and that it’s high time some effort was made to scale it down a little. I think bigger changes than this are ultimately needed, but this is a step in the right direction. Kudos to Rep. Eissler for listening to the feedback from parents and educators.
My comments on this:
This could be good news for those with elementary-aged students who just might not need that kind of pressure. It is also great news for elementary teachers who have been forced to be a part of the pressure-packed system. I can say fairly confidently that this is in large part to the new leadership that the House Public Education Committee has found after the previous chair’s defeat during election time. While I have had the opportunity to testify before the Interim Committee on Accountability, I would not have expected much movement on our suggestions, yet so quickly. Glad to see it was taken serious. Thank you, Chairman Eissler. I look forward to working with you more in the coming session.
My post title comes from a quote by Carl Gustav Jung – “The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong”