“Education Spring”—the rise of public education advocates against the business-backed privatization movement—is spreading across the country and has finally reached Washington. But if you’re wondering why standardized testing is causing such a stink these days (after all, didn’t we manage OK with the SAT, ACT and other tests?), all you have to do is go back to where this all started, in Texas. Providing cautionary tales to the rest of the country is a public service we provide here. You’re welcome.
Here’s the rub: No Child Left Behind, an outdated law begging for replacement, requires every eighth-grader to pass a standardized test in math. Texas also requires students taking Algebra I to pass a state standardized test, and many children take Algebra I in the eighth grade, which means many Texas eighth-graders have to pass two math tests, only one of which actually counts. The other is just to satisfy NCLB, which was based on an earlier Texas law in the first place.
The state education agency asked the federal education agency for permission not to double-test eighth-graders. Texas is where high-stakes testing was born, so when Texas is asking for relief you know things have gotten a little out of hand. But this month U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan denied the request, which means next month hundreds of thousands of Texas 14-year-olds will learn an important lesson, but not one about math.
Related Ed311 content:
How did America become a nation that skimps on its schools, overtests its children, hamstrings its teachers, and penalizes them all according to student test scores? In Test-and-Punish, John Kuhn traces the roots of today’s unequal, test-focused US education system back to Texas and its culture, judicial and legislative decisions, and influential personalities like George W. Bush, H. Ross Perot, and other lesser-known yet powerful Texans.