Standardized Testing Sparks Texas Teacher Revolt
Nearly 650 Texas school districts have passed a resolution stating that high-stakes standardized testing is “strangling” public schools. The resolution came after 56 percent of Texas schools failed to meet federal education standards.
The resolution, drafted by the Texas Association of School Administrators and signed by 63 percent of Texas school districts, states that 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.”
Fifty-six percent of Texas schools did not meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards in 2012 compared with 34 percent of schools that missed the benchmark in 2011, according to the Texas Education Agency. The passing rate needed to meet the AYP standard increases each year.
The AYP progress benchmarks are part of the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law (modeled in part after Texas’ earlier educational reforms), with the goal of having 100 percent of students proficient in math and reading by 2014. Schools that “receive federal funding and fail to make adequate progress for two years or more in the same subject face a number of sanctions and risk losing federal dollars if improvement is not made,” according to the Texas Star-Telegram.
The Texas Education Agency said that their standardized tests are “are designed and administered in a transparent and highly scrutinized process that involves hundreds of Texas educators and a committee of national experts in educational research and assessment, and routinely undergo reviews for technical quality.”
Several large school districts in Florida, including Broward County, the sixth-largest district in the United States, have also passed resolutions demanding a reduced focus on high-stakes standardized tests. In Washington state, 70 parents of high school students in the Vancouver area refused to let their children take standardized tests, using the state’s legal “opt out” procedure. Several hundred parents and children in New York City rallied outside the offices of Pearson Education, the nation’s largest testing company, chanting, “More teaching, less testing” and “One, two, three, four… Kids are not a test score,” according to Reuters.
The American Federation of Teachers issued a resolution against standardized testing at its July 28, 2012 national conference, stating that “America’s fixation on high-stakes testing is denying children the rich, meaningful education they deserve.” The petition was signed online by nearly 23,000 parents, teachers, and students from across the United States.
Action 4 News, “Teachers Want Perry to Ease Budget Cuts, End Standardized Tests,” valleycentral.com, Aug. 10, 2012
American Federation of Teachers, “AFT Delegates Pass Resolutions Against High-Stakes Testing, Adopting New Mission Statement, Investing in Jobs,” aft.org, July 28, 2012
Jessamy Brown, “Majority of Texas Schools Fail to Meet Federal Standards,” Texas Star-Telegram, Aug. 8, 2012
Cleveland Advocate, “Students Face New Challenges with STAARS Test,” yourhoustonnews.com, Aug. 7, 2012
FairTest, “Testing Protests Expand Across the Nation,” fairtest.org (accessed Aug. 15, 2012)
Lori Higgins, “Teachers Union to Urge Focus on Teaching, Learning — Not Standardized Testing,” Detroit Free Press, July 27, 2012
Stephanie Simon, “Parents Protest Surge in Standardized Testing,” Reuters, June 13, 2012
Valerie Strauss, “In Texas, a Revolt Brews Against Standardized Testing,” Washington Post, Mar. 23, 2012
Texas Association of School Administrators, “Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students,” tasanet.org (accessed Aug. 14, 2012)