Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students

Trustee  Ranger,
My name is ... and I live at ... in Dallas ....  I am also a former Dallas ISD teacher, a Dallas ISD taxpayer and a proud father of a ... daughter that may one day attend a Dallas ISD school. It is in my capacity as a taxpayer and prospective Dallas ISD parent than I am writing today. The views I express are my own ...

I am very concerned at the Board’s failure to move forward with the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students. This resolution is supported by the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Association of School Boards. TEA Commissioner Robert Scott has publically criticized our over reliance on standardized tests. To date, over 280 Texas School Districts have adopted this resolution.

As a former classroom teacher, I personally saw the damage that the overemphasis on standardized testing has wrought. Over the course of 11 years in Dallas ISD I taught numerous students that struggled when faced with any kind of written test yet could provide excellent answers to an oral exam, create incredible artistic or multimedia projects explaining a concept or even write a poem or skit relating the information. Creativity and collaboration are essential skills for students yet no standardized test can measure them. As Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Every day that we spent testing or preparing for a test was a lost instructional day. This was particularly true in Advanced Placement classes.  Instead of analyzing primary sources or crafting historical arguments, my students were forced to drill for a minimal skills test.

Across the United States public school systems that have emphasized standardized test preparation in an effort to boost state and federal school ratings have seen an exodus of children with college-educated parents. This is no accident. College educated parents know that a real education consists of far more than bubbling answers on a Scantron sheet. Reducing education to nothing more than exam results is deceitful and shameful. Subjecting low and moderate income students to endless days of test prep while claiming to educate them is an injustice.

My wife and I face many challenges in raising our daughter. Not the least of these is what school to send her to. I am a strong proponent of public education and earnestly desire that she attend public schools. Strong public schools are a hallmark of a democratic society and my wife and I value the diversity and excellent education Dallas ISD schools offer. However, if Dallas ISD continues to emphasize standardized testing to the exclusion of creativity and collaboration, we will have no choice but to explore alternative educational options.

In closing, I strongly urge you to consider and adopt the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students. There is a growing backlash against the overuse of standardized testing in Texas and across the United States. This is a movement led by parents that will only get stronger. As an elected School Board Trustee you would be foolish to ignore it. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.

Dallas, TX