The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I Don't Understand

With nearly 20 years of failure to back it up, certain segments of the population still believe using state-mandated standardized testing as the sole indicator of educational achievement are the way to go:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell said Tuesday that public school students should not be required to pass state-mandated tests to advance from one grade to another or to graduate from high school.

His idea, building on his previous criticism of "high-stakes testing," could thrill many of the state's 4.3 million public school students, albeit most of them too young to vote in the March 7 Democratic primary.

But the former U.S. House member from Houston placed himself in conflict with nearly 20 years of state educational policy, which has been driven by increasingly difficult tests gauging whether students learn what the state expects.

Robert Black, spokesman for GOP Gov. Rick Perry's campaign, said that in Bell's vision, "Two plus two would equal five.

"Students should be required to meet a minimum standard before they advance to the next grade," Black said. "The only way to determine that is through testing."

Right. Testing. Like say your monthly math test or your English mid-term. Not state-mandated standardized testing.

This quote, though, is puzzling:

Linda Bridges of the Texas Federation of Teachers, which has yet to endorse a gubernatorial candidate, said of Bell's idea: "He's playing to peoples' emotions about the tests."

"We have supported accountability," Bridges said, adding that previously, too many children who couldn't read were promoted without much of a chance of long-term success.

However, according to a recent, voluntary, survey of Texas Federation of Teachers members posted on their website, nearly 80% of the respondents would- at the very minimum- completely overhaul the state's standardized testing system. Additionally, another 70 plus % would support or strongly support replacing the TAKS with end-of-year exams. So what exactly is Bridges saying here? I have no idea.

That's just the tip of the iceberg with the survey though. Go take a look.