HISD Asks State Lawmakers To Put Less Weight On Standardized Tests


The resolution HISD adopted Thursday night urges state lawmakers to change the school assessment system to reduce the emphasis on one particular exam.  In this case, it's the new STAAR test.  

The Houston ISD Board of Education on Thursday, May 10th approved a resolution calling on the Texas Legislature to "reexamine the public school accountability system in Texas and to develop a system that encompasses multiple assessments, reflects greater validity, reduces the number of instructional days affected by state-mandated standardized tests, and uses more cost efficient sampling techniques and other external evaluation arrangements, and more accurately reflects what students know, appreciate and can do in terms of the rigorous standards essential to their success, enhances the role of teachers as designers, guides to instruction and leaders, and nurtures the sense of inquiry and love of learning in all students."

Letty Reza is a member of Community Voices for Public Education.  It's the group that lobbied HISD board members to approve the resolution. 

"If you have the focus on high-stakes testing, on standardized testing, other things will suffer — things like AP courses, or AP exams, or scholarship preparation or college prep courses."

The group says preparing for standardized tests can take up to as many as 45 class days per year.  Reza says that practice, which is often criticized as "teaching to the test," interferes with actual learning.

"School is hard already, and with these exams, and so much is riding on them, it makes the student not only stress out — it takes time out of the classroom."

More than 400 suburban and rural districts have adopted similar resolutions asking state lawmakers to consider other factors in how they rank schools. Houston is the first urban district to join in. 

The group now wants HISD to change its own district policies.  One example would be to exclude STAAR test results in the calculation of grade point averages.  The other would be limiting test scores to no more than 20 percent of a teacher's evaluation.

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