Fighting the testing plague

 

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte renewed the war on the testing plague yesterday. She vowed to significantly cut back on standardized testing in the public schools and give students more time to actually experience the joy of learning, rather than the dread of bubbling the wrong bubble.

That goal alone (plus the fact that she is fighting to save Texas from Dan Patrick) is enough of a reason, although there are many more, to vote for Van de Putte for lieutenant governor this November.  So, you teachers who are sick of teaching to the test and you parents who are sick of your children being sick of testing, applaud Leticia – and then vote – because testing advocates don’t want to release their stranglehold on Texas classrooms.

Even as Van de Putte and gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis are fighting against excessive testing, the Texas Education Agency is getting ready to launch in about 70 school districts this fall a teacher evaluation system that will be partly based on test scores. State Education Commissioner Michael Williams agreed to the program as a condition for getting a U.S. Department of Education waiver from some provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

School districts had to agree to participate because the education commissioner has no authority under state law to force districts to base teacher evaluations on test scores. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, one of the state’s largest school districts, declined the commissioner’s offer to take part.

The election of Van de Putte and Davis could go a long way toward heading off legislative approval of such an evaluation scheme because Williams is likely to try to get the Legislature to endorse a similar plan.

Much research in recent years has discredited using standardized test scores – or so-called value-added measures (VAM) – to evaluate teachers. The process gives an incomplete and unfair picture of a teacher’s performance, researchers have concluded, although so-called education “reformers,” including the Obama administration, persist in trying to ram it down our throats.

If these misnamed “reformers” get their way, testing will become even more stressful – for both teachers and students – and further erode the time that children need for real learning. That threat makes Van de Putte’s stand even more welcome.

 

 

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