thinking between the lines

Five Questions for Texas Parents

Because parent voices are the driving force behind educational change, I’m hoping these five questions will reach every parent in the State of Texas and encourage each one to seriously consider the STAAR/EOC testing system we’ve built for our students.

Question #1: Are you okay with how much the State is paying for this testing program?

  • By 2015, the tax payers of Texas will have paid Pearson, a British testing company, $1.1 billion for administering the State’s testing program.
  • If the contract is continued with this year’s budget, we will pay Pearson $95 million for this year alone.

Question #2: Do you think we’re getting what we’re paying for?

  • Pearson hires unqualified graders from Craigslist at $12.00/hour to grade student essays.
  • Pearson has forced graders to change scores to reflect the company’s published predictions.
  • Pearson is under investigation in New York for faulty test development. In last year’s tests alone, NY state administrators found more than two dozen errors. There are other states with like complaints.
  • With each year of practice with a State exam, students’ average scores increase (the same will probably be true for the new STAAR system), but that trend has not been mirrored in ACT/SAT scores. One would expect these nationally normed tests to reflect the same gain if in fact the State tests are measuring student knowledge.

Question #3: Are you comfortable basing your child’s academic future on arbitrary testing standards?

  • Pearson sets passing standards after tests are taken. (I had a student who answered 70% of the questions correctly on the test, but that was the year Pearson decided to require 73% – after the test.)
  • Passing percentages are not equal across grades or subjects. Some subjects at some grades require 70% correct to pass while other subjects at different grades may only require 40% correct to pass. Who sets these standards? Pearson.

Question #4: Do you think we’re treating Texas students fairly? 

  • Texas administers more tests than any other state and requires high school students to pass 15 EOC exams in order to graduate at the recommended level. That is 4 times more than what other states require and makes Texas the most punitive testing machine in the nation.
  • EOC scores will count 15% of a student’s grade in English, math, science, and social studies, giving the EOCs the power to affect class ranking as well as course completion. (This has been waived the last 2 years but will be implemented as soon as the waiver is lifted.)

Question #5: Are you willing to take action on this issue?

All opinions expressed above are my own and do not necessarily reflect the position of my employer or any other entity.


Pearson Craigslist Ad:

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Categorised in: Culture, Education, Politics

7 Responses »

  1. Wow. Thanks for this. I hope parents can see this.

  2. I am an educator in the state of Illinois, so I am all too familiar with high stakes testing in this country, and the sick culture it has become. I hope Texas parents read your informed post and take action. Thank you for bringing yet another dysfunctional topic in education to light.

  3. Very interesting. Our state (NC) tends to pattern itself after many of the testing initiatives in Texas. Thanks for the information and the additional links to look at.

  4. Texas. Go figure.

  5. Teachers will continue to be pressured to “teach the test” until the lobbyists are stopped in Austin. Think of the money being wasted developing, printing, administering, and grading the tests. That money should be used at the local level to improve teacher training and resources.

  6. This “Testing is JUNK & awaste of money.Let teachers teach & students live in the real world.

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