First the good news. School boards in Texas continue to pass a resolution opposing high-stakes testing. As of this date, 610 school boards representing more than 3.6 million students have passed the Texas resolution. That 59% of all school boards in the state, representing 74% of all students in Texas public schools.
Texas, as we know from its role in originating No Child Left Behind, is a state that is test-obsessed and test-centric. Its leaders assumed that testing would solve all problems, raise everyone’s performance, close the gaps between races and income levels, and maybe do the dishes as well. No one figured out that a standardized test by design is normed, meaning that half are above and half below average; no one realized that standardized tests accurately reflect poverty and affluence. Tests do not teach. Tests instead displace instruction and control and direct instruction into the path ordained by the tests.
Texas, be it noted, is paying $100 million a year to Pearson to design tests. Texas officials should be asking Pearson why New York pays only $32 million annually. Are the Pearson tests for Texas three times as good as Pearson’s tests for New York? Are the Texas officials being treated as dumb rubes who will buy just anything sold by someone with a British accent? As a Texan, I’d like to know why my state got sold something for triple the price of what they were selling to NY.
Now for the bad news.
Disappointed with the results of three decades of testing, disappointed with the poorly prepared students who enter college, Texas officials have just given a contract to the College Board to develop a new test! This would be a placement exam for all students entering any college or university in Texas.
Meanwhile, the cuts to public education are something like $4 billion in the past few years. Teachers, librarians, other have been laid off. Class sizes have gone up.
But there is always enough money for new tests.