Texas Joins the School Testing Backlash


Abby Rapoport reports that it’s not just teachers unions that are getting tired of the endless high-stakes testing regimen in public schools today:

While most of the national anti-testing rhetoric comes from teachers’ groups and others associated with the left, in Texas rural Republicans took the lead. During the 2011 session, even as lawmakers were gutting education spending, one-third of the state House members, mostly Republicans, supported an amendment from Representative Larry Taylor of the small town of Sherman to get a waiver from the Department of Education and suspend testing for the next two school years.

In a way, I’m mostly just surprised that this has taken so long. I’m not resolutely anti-test myself: It strikes me as a good idea to collect at least some amount of consistent, quantitative data if we want to understand how well our schools are doing and which educational reforms produce the best results. At the same time, the sheer magnitude of our test-taking culture has become breathtaking over the past couple of decades. Standardized tests should be a modest part of the school curriculum, not a frantic, neverending race that engulfs the entire culture of teaching.

Maybe everyone is starting to get that message. It was George W. Bush’s Texas that led the way in the testing craze, and it would be appropriate if it were Texas that led the way in reining it in.

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