New Survey Finds Overwhelming Discontent with State Testing

An online survey on testing and accountability by State Board of Education chair Donna Bahorich drew responses last month from 27,186 Texans, and their take on the state’s current testing regime was overwhelmingly negative. The Houston Republican and her colleagues on the 15-member, elected State Board reviewed the responses today and voted to forward them to a special state commission on accountability and assessments that will advise legislators on needed changes in policy on accountability tests. That commission meets on July 27 to develop final recommendations to include in a report to state lawmakers due in September.

Highlights of the survey responses submitted by educators, parents, community members, and students include these:

  • 63 percent supported scrapping the state’s STAAR tests in favor of a national test—for example, the SAT, ACT, or Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
  • 80 percent said students should be allowed to graduate or advance to the next grade level regardless of their state test results.
  • 87 percent said the role of standardized state assessments in teacher evaluations should be reduced.
  • 94 percent said we need better ways to test students with disabilities.
  • 87 percent said students and teachers should get immediate feedback on state test results.
  • 97 percent said developmentally inappropriate or tricky questions should be eliminated from state exams.

SBOE chair Bahorich said 61 percent of respondents in the survey were educators and 31 percent were parents and community members. The survey did not randomly sample Texans’ views, but there is little question that the findings accurately reflect rising public doubts about the validity and value of the state’s system of high-stakes standardized testing. Those doubts also were evident in a series of community meetings on accountability and testing convened by Bahorich and her colleagues all across the state since last fall.