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.
Last year about this time school districts in Texas started passing resolutions saying that high-stakes standardized tests were “strangling” public schools, and hundreds of districts representing nearly 90 percent of the state’s K-12 students have followed suit. Then Robert Scott, the man who was then state education commissioner, said publicly that the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should be.
Texas schools and students are strongly impacted by the testing schedule; during the 180-day school year, high school students now spend up to 45 days taking various standardized exams. Recently 23 members of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium asked state officials for waivers from testing mandates while they devise a better accountability system, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Meanwhile, the standardized testing revolt that is spreading around the country has gotten some publicity in Seattle, where teachers at Garfield High School have said they would refuse to give the state’s standardized test because, they say, it is flawed. The Garfield teachers are attracting support from teachers and education advocates around the country.