Sara Stevenson, librarian at the O. Henry Middle School in Austin, says that Texans should calculate the true cost of state testing.

It is not just the purchase price of the tests. It is also the cost of the time of teachers and others, like herself, who monitor testing.

Instead of teaching or in Sara’s case, tending the library, their time is spent as test supervisors.

Republican Representative Jeff Leach has proposed that the state do a true financial audit to measure the real cost of testing.

Sara says this is a great idea.

Of course, the audit will not take into account the time that students lose when they should be getting instruction, nor will it measure the distortion of education by focus on testing as the be-all and end-all of schooling.

In other words, what exactly are we paying for — and how much are we spending annually? It’s shocking that no one before Leach has ever asked this question.

For instance, as a school librarian with 25 years of experience and a masters’ degree, I make $50,000 annually, or roughly $32 per hour — not counting the time I work outside of school hours. Texans are paying me $128 each time I monitor a STAAR test for four hours. During several days each year of STAAR testing, the Texas Education Agency threatens to strip us of our Texas teaching certificates if we read or do any other task while monitoring these tests. Once, I jokingly asked if it was OK for me to daydream — and I was told no. Just try to stop me! I’m writing this op-ed in my head.

Last legislative session, Pearson lost its testing contract to Education Testing Service in part because of the negative publicity Pearson garnered from advertising STAAR scoring jobs on Craigslist for $8 an hour. Maybe the state should pay outside test monitors $8 an hour and allow teachers the time to plan, grade or benefit from professional development.

Will the lobbyists for the testing industry defeat the bill?

Do elected officials really want to know what the state is spending on testing?

This is a test of what they want to know.