Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Union of Me and Them is This

As you know, I'm not a big fan of unions, but I totally agree with the Texas teachers' union on this point:
Texas teacher groups Monday urged a special state committee to ease up on high-stakes testing that they said has forced schools to focus more on test preparation and school ratings than on learning.

All four of the state's teacher organizations asked the panel – made up of legislators and residents – to consider major changes in Texas' school accountability system.

The system annually rates campus and district performance based on test scores and graduation rates.

"We have a system that has gone astray," said Eric Hartman of the Texas Federation of Teachers.

"A system that was originally created to identify problems has turned into something where the measurement tool is an end in itself.

"The time devoted to testing and test preparation is swallowing the time teachers spend dealing with students directly."
These folks have it exactly right. The only people who really benefit from the current obsession with standardized testing are the test-making companies themselves. As i've said before, we need to remember what the "A" in Texas' TAKS test stands for: Assessment. Give the test at the beginning of the school year and use its results to determine what areas need to be emphasized. It should not be used as a comprehensive exam, and it should not be tied to graduation.

I'm still getting caught up from TMEA, but I had to chime in and point out that, if people whose ideas are often at the polar opposite of mine also think the overreliance on standardized testing is bad, there's probably a pretty broad consensus here.

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