Topic: Testing

How to Measure Productivity in Texas Public Education?

At the meetings of the National Conference of State Legislatures in San Antonio this week, lawmakers from around the country heard a learned presentation from  education-finance professor James Guthrie of the Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University, purporting to show how the state is not getting its money’s worth from  Texas public schools. Defining productivity in terms of the ratio...

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U.S. Dep’t of Ed Offers to Ease “Adequate Yearly Progress” Mandate-But There’s a Catch

Critics of the federal No Child Left Behind Act from all across the political spectrum are fed up with the law's pie-in-the-sky "Adequate Yearly Progress" (AYP) standard, which mandates that 100 percent of students at every school in every state must pass state achievement tests by 2014. The American Federation of Teachers has framed a couple of the most common...

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A Message You’ll Want to Hear in Support of Teachers

One of the prominent speakers at last weekend’s Save Our Schools rally across from the White House was the son of a teacher and a product of public schools who has gone on to become a highly successful film actor and screenwriter. He took a red-eye flight across the country last Friday night from the site of his current movie...

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A Challenge to Testing Orthodoxy

On July 30 thousands of teachers, parents, and community allies marched on the White House to rally support for a challenge to the current excessive emphasis on standardized testing in our public schools. Participants came from all across the country to lend their voices to the call for change. They represented the rising resistance of millions of Americans not only...

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New School Accountability Ratings: Still Viewing Schools Through a Distorting Lens

The Texas Education Agency on Friday afternoon issued 2011 accountability ratings for school districts and campuses that show a sharp drop in the number of campuses rated exemplary and a sharp increase in the number of campuses rated academically unacceptable. The number of exemplary campuses dropped more than half, from 2,637 in 2010 to 1,224 in 2011 (a decline from...

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How Not to Redesign Teacher Evaluation

A proposal to make students' scores on achievement tests the centerpiece of the appraisal process for individual teachers made it through one chamber in the Texas legislature but ultimately failed this year. Texas AFT opposed the bill (SB 4 by Sen. Florence Shapiro, Republican of Plano) because it put the cart before the horse, mandating that scores on standardized tests...

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Be Forewarned: Schools May Have Done Better in 2011, Yet Ratings May Drop

State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, Republican of Mount Pleasant, has come out with a timely warning of what to expect from state accountability ratings for 2011 due out later this month. Ratliff is a moderate politically, but he is quite fired up about the misleading nature of the Texas accountability system, for reasons that he shares in the...

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Austin Follies, Part Two: New Instructional-Materials Scheme Will Delay Textbooks

State lawmakers have been busy enacting what they have touted as major improvements in the system for disseminating instructional materials to school districts. But the transition to the new system apparently will mean a delay in the delivery of new textbooks until weeks after the start of the 2011-2012 school year. The expected delay means students and teachers will lack...

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Legacy of the 2011 Legislature: Needless Harm to Students, Teachers, and Schools

Linda Bridges, president of Texas AFT, the 65,000-strong Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers, offered this observation Wednesday in a press statement marking the end of the special legislative session that began May 31: The governor, lieutenant governor, and House speaker in this year’s regular and special sessions have led a shameful retreat from the state’s financial commitment...

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Stopped Dead: Attack on Class-Size Caps, Pay Standards, Contract Rights

Congratulations to all of you who have participated in our session-long fight against bills to gut class-size caps, pay guarantees, and contract safeguards in state law. We are still combing and re-combing through the last few House-Senate conference reports on bills still to be finally approved, but it appears that all attempts to undermine these laws and thereby do lasting...

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Bad Bills Looking to Hitch a Ride

It’s that time of the legislative session—the last seven or eight days—when many a bill dies unless it can hitch a ride on another bill that already has made it further along over the legislative obstacle course. Into the “watch out for these dangerous hitchhikers” category we place the following bills opposed by Texas AFT: --SB 127, the bill by...

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In House Hearing, Texas AFT Opposes SB 4 on Teacher Evaluation

SB 4, the bill by Republican Sen. Florence Shapiro to revamp teacher evaluation, received little support when presented this morning in the House Public Education Committee by Rep. Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands. Texas AFT, three other state teacher organizations, and other groups such as the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators all testified against the bill. Texas AFT...

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