Texas school districts take stand against testing
Is Florida next?
According to the Texas Association of School Administrators, 232 Texas school districts have adopted resolutions like the one at the bottom of this post calling for a reevaluation of the way Texas schools use tests. The current testing mania, they suggest, has simply gotten out of hand, detracting from the important role that teachers should play.
Florida activist Rita Solnet, one of the cofounders of Parents Across America, has rewritten the Texas document to fit Florida, and sent it to Palm Beach district leaders with the suggestion that they "discuss, edit, sign and pass" if they agree.
So far, nothing. But then, no one really expected Texas districts to spark up against the testing culture as they have. Any thoughts as to whether Florida might join the fight?
Here is the proposed language of the Texas resolution:
WHEREAS, the over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing as the only assessment of learning that really matters in the state and federal accountability systems is strangling our public schools and undermining any chance that educators have to transform a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepares our students to live successfully and be competitive on a global stage; and
WHEREAS, we commend Robert Scott, Commissioner of Education, for his concern about the overemphasis on high stakes testing that has become “a perversion of its original intent” and for his continuing support of high standards and local accountability; and
WHEREAS, we believe our state’s future prosperity relies on a high-quality education system that prepares students for college and careers, and without such a system Texas’ economic competitiveness and ability and to attract new business will falter; and
WHEREAS, the real work of designing more engaging student learning experiences requires changes in the culture and structure of the systems in which teachers and students work; and
WHEREAS, what occurs in our classrooms every day should be student-centered and result in students learning at a deep and meaningful level, as opposed to the superficial level of learning that results from the current over-emphasis on that which can be easily tested by standardized tests; and
WHEREAS, We believe in the tenets set out in Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas (TASA, 2008) and our goal is to transform this district in accordance with those tenets; and
WHEREAS, Our vision is for all students to be engaged in more meaningful learning activities that cultivate their unique individual talents, to provide for student choice in work that is designed to respect how they learn best, and to embrace the concept that students can be both consumers and creators of knowledge; and
WHEREAS, only by developing new capacities and conditions in districts and schools, and the communities in which they are embedded, will we ensure that all learning spaces foster and celebrate innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication and critical thinking; and
WHEREAS, these are the very skills that business leaders desire in a rising workforce and the very attitudes that are essential to the survival of our democracy; and
WHEREAS, imposing relentless test preparation and boring memorization of facts to enhance test performance is doing little more than stealing the love of learning from our students and assuring that we fall short of our goals; and
WHEREAS, we do not oppose accountability in public schools and we point with pride to the performance of our students, but believe that the system of the past will not prepare our students to lead in the future and neither will the standardized tests that so dominate their instructional time and block our ability to make progress toward a world-class education system of student-centered schools and future-ready students; therefore be it
RESOLVED that the _____________ ISD Board of Trustees calls on the Texas Legislature to reexamine the public school accountability system in Texas and to develop a system that encompasses multiple assessments, reflects greater validity, uses more cost efficient sampling techniques and other external evaluation arrangements, and more accurately reflects what students know, appreciate and can do in terms of the rigorous standards essential to their success, enhances the role of teachers as designers, guides to instruction and leaders, and nurtures the sense of inquiry and love of learning in all students.