• Dr. Jeff Turner Reports Cracks in Testing Debate

    I recently returned from the Texas Association of School Administrators' (TASA) Midwinter conference in Austin and wanted to share some interesting developments in the debate about high stakes testing. Over the years, we focused on the absurdity of the state system of accountability, and our efforts may have begun to bear fruit. Recently, we have seen some cracks in the national debate regarding high stakes testing beginning with Diane Ravitch's book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education, and spilling into the Texas House of Representatives where a bill passed almost unanimously last session to suspend testing for two years until kinks could be worked out of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). The issue was quickly rejected in the Senate, however, where Senator Shapiro controlled the discussion.

    We now have Commissioner Robert Scott, who supported our efforts to create a High Performing Schools Consortium through SB 1557, making comments (before the State Board of Education and in a speech to over 4,000 district administrators) that are critical of our testing program. It was a breath of fresh air and a testament to our persistent work with the commissioner regarding this issue. I have attached links to several newspaper articles for you to read regarding Commissioner Scott's statements (DMN, Abilene Reporter-News, Houston Chronicle, and the TASA Capitol Watch), a link to TASA's public school transformation efforts at transformtexas.org, and the letter our North Texas Regional Consortium (NTRC) of superintendents recently sent to Governor Rick Perry, every Texas legislator, and the State Board of Education.