Once again Texas school districts are being asked to do more with less, this time it’s due to a new testing regime mandated by House Bill 3 from the 2009 legislative session. The dreaded TAKS tests were dropped but the replacement isn’t just more demanding it is more testing.
Currently the TAKS tests require about 25 school days per year but when the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™) testing regime is fully implemented it will require an astounding 45 days of testing. That’s one quarter of the entire school year. I’ve heard from a school administrator friend that when this was announced at a conference the only people smiling were from Pearson Testing Services because they were seeing dollar signs from all the lucrative contracts that will surely ensue.
While the old business adage that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” is certainly true, more testing doesn’t equal more learning. Given Texas’ looming $27 billion budget shortfall and the fact that much of that shortage will be made up by cuts to school funding now would be good time for our legislators to stop and rethink this unfunded mandate.