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Davis keeps up the attack on Abbott over pre-k

She is not letting up.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

While addressing the Texas State Teachers Association’s convention in San Marcos on Saturday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis accused her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott, of backing away from his early education policy proposal.

Abbott, the state’s attorney general, recently came under fire from Democrats and education advocates for language in a policy proposal that appears to call for the biannual testing of pre-kindergarten students. Although Abbott’s campaign said earlier this week that his plan does not call for such tests, Davis is keeping up the attacks.

“Under the guise of quality, he calls for putting these tests first — not our kids,” Davis said. “In his plan, his first assessment idea calls for another test for 4-year-olds. And if they don’t pass the mark, they get the rug pulled out from under them.”

Davis bashed Abbott for remarks made by campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch, who told The Texas Tribune earlier this week that assessment methods mentioned in the attorney general’s plan were “there for informational purposes only.”

“They are not part of Greg Abbott’s policy recommendations,” he said.

See here and here for the background. I don’t really have anything to say about this, I’m just using it as an excuse to reproduce beneath the fold an amazingly snarky press release from the Davis campaign that made fun of that “for informational purposes only” disclaimer. I continue to be amazed at the aggressiveness of the Davis campaign lately. As I’ve noted before, she has been setting the terms of the debate for basically the entire campaign. I don’t know how long that will last, and I don’t know how much effect it may have on the outcome, but I do know this is something we are not used to seeing, and I do know I’m enjoying it. Click on for the press release.

NOTE: If you agree with this release, please consider it real. If you find it offensive or unpopular, please consider it for “informational purposes only”.




Abbott Spokesperson Claims Deeply Unpopular Standardized Testing For 4 Year Olds Included In Education Plan “For Informational Purposes Only.”


No.  That’s not a joke.


No.  Seriously, guys.  That’s what he said. 


Zac Petkanas, Davis Comm. Director: “No one is buying Greg Abbott’s lame and dishonest excuses trying to hide his deeply unpopular call for standardized tests on four year olds.”

FORT WORTH – The rollout of Greg Abbott’s pre-K education plan has been an unmitigated disaster.


Last week, the coverage was dominated by the fact that Abbott included the ideas of fringe thinker Charles Murray in his proposal – someone who has argued that “men have larger brain than women”.  It was so bad that he was forced to cancel his education press conference on Monday in order to avoid taking more questions on the subject.


However, this week it got even worse when the press started reporting on his plan’s call for imposing standardized testing onto four year olds.


  • “One of the candidates’biggest slug-fests over Pre-K has focused on Abbott’s call for assessing what these four-year olds have learned and how that would be done.  A paragraph in Abbott’s 22- page plan says standardized testing is one way of doing that.” — KERA
  •  “Abbott also proposes that school districts meet a “gold standard”as an incentive for funding. That involves measurement, which is another way of saying testing“-Corpus Christi Caller Times
  •     “That would include testing and other measurements to ensure that instruction in those classes is effective.” – Dallas Morning News
  •   “Sabo also cautioned against placing too much emphasis on testing for such young children.’ The last thing Texas needs is Baby STAAR.’ “- Austin American Statesman
  •    “Districts being funded by the state would also be required to test each pre-K student for benchmarks.” – Texas Public Radio
  •  “Abbott’s plan would grant an additional $1500 per pre-k student in districts that agree to meet new “gold” standards, a determination that would be made through testing and other assessments.” – KUT
  • Funding would be tied to the program’s evaluation, in turn linked to student performance, which has made some teacher groups bristle.” –San Antonio Express News

Given how DEEPLY unpopular more standardized testing is with…well…almost everyone… it’s no surprise the Abbott campaign tried to backtrack.


However, could they have possibly come up with an excuse as laughably lame as: the inclusion of standardized testing for pre-K students in his plan was “there for informational purposes only”?


They might as well have said: “Whoops. JK/LOL, guys.  Didn’t realize how much parents hate the idea of another intrusive state mandated requirement on their four year olds.  Let’s just call it a mulligan, ok?”




“In order to equip the Commissioner of Education with the data necessary   to properly      evaluate prekindergarten programs,   lawmakers should amend the Education Code to require school  districts with prekindergarten programs to administer assessments at the     beginning and end of the school year.

There are at least three methods of assessing students at the prekindergarten level:   

  • Direct Assessments, norm referenced standardized tests: A typical question on a direct assessment might ask the child to identify the letter B and provide three options. The child receives credit for correctly identifying the letter. Direct assessments are in some views deficient because they do not capture the full spectrum of the students skill set and cannot truly be used to determine quality of the program.
  • Observation Checklists and Scales: Assessment under this method requires that teachers informally watch students within the daily routine and observe their mastery.  This option does provide a more complete capture of the student’s progress but is contingent on teachers being well-trained in the method. Such assessments are also labor intensive.
  • Child’s Work (Portfolio): Assessing children’s work acts as a complement to a teachers   observed progress. This method does not capture the entire picture of a student’s progress and tends to be labor intensive for teachers.

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