Republican Texas House Says No to Jeb Bush on Testing

In late December last year, Jeb Bush penned an opinion piece for the Dallas Morning News I which he wrote the following:

Today, Texas has the chance to lead again. Moving above and beyond the testing of basic academic skills, the new STAAR exams include end-of-course exams. This is a common-sense improvement to the Texas system of accountability and transparency.

If Texas taxpayers are going to invest in the classroom facilities and personnel to provide students with a physics or history class, it follows that they have the right to know how much students learned about physics or history.

The STAAR exams represent a logical and necessary next step for reform. End-of-course exams provide a deeper level of transparency across a wide array of subjects beyond reading and math.

The anti-accountability activists discuss ideas for improving schools, but ironically — without testing — lack a credible system of evaluation to judge whether they succeeded or failed.

Looks like those “anti-accountability activists” include republican members of the Texas House. From Valerie Strauss’ The Answer Sheet:

The revolt against standardized testing in Texas has taken a new twist: The Texas House has put forth a draft 2014-15 budget that zeroes out all funding for statewide standardized assessment. By way of explanation, Speaker Joe Straus said, “To parents and educators concerned about excessive testing, the Texas House has heard you.”

The Dallas Morning News said that the draft budget is not likely to stand, given that the Senate’s preliminary budget has about $94 million allocated for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, the standardized test known as STAAR. The two budgets will have to be reconciled and it is hard to believe the state will get rid of the testing altogether. Besides, federal law requires standardized testing under the No Child Left Behind law.

But the House move underscores growing discontent with high-stakes testing in the state where it was born when George W. Bush, as governor, implemented the precursor to No Child Left Behind, which he took national when he became president.

Texas over the last year has been in the forefront of growing protests across the country against standardized testing, which has become the main metric in school reform, used to assess schools, students, teachers, districts and states.

Wow. What a concept. Republican legislators actually listening to parents? No way.

Even though the funding for STARR will be maintained, the House’s action represents a symbolic rebuke of Bush’s test-dominated accountability system. Bush’s personal lobbying was unpersuasive in a state whose residents have seen enough of his brand. It is state’s like Texas where his test-first system has been in place where resistance is occurring. And it’s no longer possible to brush aside opposition as former Florida ed boss Gerard Robinson tried with, “people just don’t like tests.”

Insulting and misrepresenting the positions of opponents as “anti-accountability activists” clearly doesn’t fly. Nor do the tiresome litany of justifying themes  like  “accountability,” “job-readiness” or “competing in a global economy.”  How any of these ambiguities could be measured in any way by a standardized test persists as something guys like Bush can’t sell to anyone besides his true believers.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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