Now that they’ve got the court order regarding property taxes off their backs (temporarily, anyway), the Lege can actually visit the idea of school finance (read: figure out how they’re gonna pay for those property tax cuts) and maybe even take up some school reform ideas. On the list of topics to discuss: the TAKS test.
“You never stop discussing education. It’s got to be every session, and it’s got to be major – every session,” Senate Education Chair Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said.
Public education directly affects more than 4.5 million Texas students, their parents and about 600,000 teachers and staff.
Shapiro is among those who believe the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test “has worn out its welcome,” particularly for high school and middle school grades. She will push for “end-of-course” exams for the upper grades.
She also wants to review the state’s assessment process and minimum standards for student performance. Currently, schools earn “acceptable” status with a 25 percent passing rating.
“Nobody believes that 25 percent passing is acceptable,” Shapiro said. “We’ve got to change that and make (school grades) meaningful and not something to snicker at because that’s what we’re doing right now.”
The article doesn’t have a quote from one of Governor Perry’s spokesbots, but given that ending TAKS as we know it was a major plank in Chris Bell’s platform, don’t expect him to sit by quietly as this is going on. The danger is that the state will eliminate the weasel words without providing the means for school districts to meet the new and improved levels they set. Expect that vouchers will somehow work their way into the conversation, even after the electoral spanking that voucher king James Leininger suffered. As with appraisal caps and other bad ideas, as long as there’s an obsessive and well-financed constituency, stuff like that never goes away.
Elsewhere, Greg has a nice catch regarding the nature of standardized tests and why they’re often futile. Check it out.