Following the lead Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott’s provided with his description of standardized testing as a “perversion of its original intent,” some North Texas superintendents joined in agreement. Writes Rodger Jones in the Dallas Morning News:
Saying high-stakes standardized testing is “strangling our public schools,” superintendents of several high-performing North Texas school districts have jointly signed a letter to top state officials and lawmakers warning about the deterioration of the education system.
Call it open rebellion against the 25-year-old testing regimen. Wow.
The letter goes out to back up Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, according to Coppell Superintendent Jeff Turner. Scott asserted recently that emphasis on high-stakes testing in some places had become a “perversion” of the system that lawmakers had in mind. Scott’s comments about testing inflamed Texas Association of Business chief Bill Hammond and put the governor’s office on edge.
So the superintendents wrote:
We completely agree with Bill Hammond when he writes, “If we do not deliver a quality education system that prepares our students for college and careers, Texas’ ability to attract new business, improve our economy and maintain our competitiveness will surely falter. Our very prosperity as a state, its business and its people stands in the balance.”
However, we completely disagree with the idea that the way to success for all students is through more standardized tests. In fact, we believe that more tests where students
memorize and fill out bubble answer sheets in order to graduate will continue to keep us from being able to reach the very goals upon which all Texans agree
When one considers that California Governor Jerry Brown – governor of another large state – has already signaled opposition to testing, the addition of Texas to the list of opponents is significant. It makes Florida’s recent tightening of standards and decision to rank districts based on FCAT as out of touch. Rodgers senses this, too, and offers, “one thing is clear — the momentum belongs to those who object to the way tests have come to dominate school life.”
There’s more in the Texas testing template that can be applied in Florida. Rodgers shares a letter he received from a member of the Texas Board of Education:
Sir: The exchange between Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott and myself dealt with the heavy burden state mandated testing has on effective teaching and learning in Texas classrooms.
Because of the vigorous punitive measures taken against districts, schools and teachers when scores are below minimum expectations, most districts have created a test based local curriculum. In many school districts, mandated common assessments directly linked to the state exam are required to be given every two weeks. In a school with 1,500 students and four core subject areas, that multiplies out to 108,000 tests.
Add to that the state required standardized tests, district benchmark tests, district mid and end of year testing, test warranted by the teacher’s actual lessons and a battery of test dealing with our immigrant population, you will get a picture of how education has devolved into a mire of testing, data disaggregation, and more additional frustrations for dedicated teachers.
What drives this kind of education? In Texas, it might be the one hundred million dollars paid every year to the test publisher.
Last year, the first year of a new state five-year contract with Pearson Educational Measurement–the publisher–Texas taxpayers paid out that sum. The same amount was paid for this year’s test.
By the end of the current contract, Pearson will have been paid one half billion dollars.All of this is happening at a time of deep budget cuts in education, school closings, overcrowded classrooms and, worst of all, teacher dismissals.
So, you see, it is not a perversion; it is a reality.
As an educator and education official in this state, I have made it my crusade to expose and ultimately end this travesty in our schools.
Emphasis mine. While considering things that are perversions, a major bank roller of Jeb Bush’s foundation is Pearson. It seems that every education initiative in Florida comes from Bush and his reputation depends on the sanctity of standardized tests. The corporate ed reformers he represents cannot survive without standardized tests meaning everything.
Florida’s republican dominated legislative body can easily dismiss a Democrat governor like Jerry Brown as a crackpot. But the revolt that’s happening in a republican state like Texas will give them pause as its potentially large enough to stand up to Jeb Bush.