Originally published by The Houston Chronicle

Legislators should use survey findings to fix test protocols at Texas’ public schools.


Teachers find our current testing culture demoralizing. Not only would scaling back on the testing culture improve student performance, but most teacher organizations agree that fewer and more meaningful tests and less test preparation time would help attract better candidates to the teaching profession. Photo: Darren Abate, FRL

The sight of little kids bending over their desks and filling in answer bubbles with No. 2 lead pencils has been a staple of the educational experience for so long that these kids have had kids. Few seem to be entirely happy with the role our state plays in the high-stakes testing culture of our public schools, yet this culture seems to have developed a life of its own.

That may be changing. In an unusual twist, the State Board of Education recently turned the tables on a system that rates students and teachers and asked the public to rate our state’s testing policies.

The SBOE’s customer satisfaction survey arose after a lengthy grass-roots process and aims to engage people informed by front-line experience in our schools. Although it wasn’t a random survey, it had considerable reach, and its findings lay the groundwork for those seeking to improve our state’s assessment and accountability system.

The discontent of many of the 27,186 people surveyed comes through loud and clear: “Texans believe we have too many tests, schools are spending too much time preparing for the state assessments, and too much class time working on the preparation,” according to Donna Bahorich, chair of the SBOE who deserves credit for spearheading the survey.

Read the original Houston Chronicle story here.