Topic: Testing

Standardized Testing Under Fire

HB 500, a bill by Rep. Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands, would reduce to four from 12 the number of end-of-course tests a student must pass in order to graduate under the new STAAR testing regime for students entering high school in the fall. Among other things, his bill also gives districts discretion to decide how much end-of-course exams...

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Hearings Next Week: Bills to Base Evaluations on Standardized-Test Scores

If you think the emphasis on standardized testing in our schools is bad now, just wait and see what happens if the legislature passes SB 4 by Sen. Florence Shapiro, Republican of Plano, and HB 1587, by Rep. Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands. Both bills would overhaul the state appraisal system for teachers by focusing individual evaluations on the...

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Strong Testimony Against Bid to Roll Back Standards on Class Size, Teacher Pay, Contracts

Strong Testimony against a Bad Bill to Roll Back Quality Standards, Safeguards: HB 400 by Rep. Rob Eissler is a comprehensively bad bill that would roll back decades of educational quality safeguards in state law. Class-size caps for K-4 classrooms would be lifted; salary floors in state law would be replaced with district-by-district determination of teachers’ pay, which would be...

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Notable Bills Filed to Reduce Excessive Emphasis on Standardized Testing

Rep. Scott Hochberg, Democrat of Houston, has filed HB 233 to reduce “the huge amount of time and money that we spend on standardized testing of every student every year.” His bill would exempt fourth-graders from standardized state tests in reading, math, or both if they scored well in those subjects in third grade. It would similarly exempt sixth-graders and...

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Legislators, Opinion Leaders Preview Agendas for 2011

At this week's meeting of the Texas Education Reform Foundation in Austin, the roster of legislators on hand to discuss the upcoming session reflected the strong partisan tilt in Texas politics confirmed by the November election. Every legislator heard from was a Republican. To varying degrees, all bowed in their remarks to the partisan conventional wisdom around the capitol, which...

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Senate Education Committee’s Interim Report: Accountability and More

The last couple of Hotlines have laid out many of the recommendations emanating from the Texas Senate Education Committee in an interim report to the 2011 legislature issued last week. You can see the full report at this site:  http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/commit/c530/c530.InterimReport81.pdf. More of the committee’s recommendations are worth noting here. Under the heading of “teacher quality” initiatives, for instance, the committee...

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Billionaire Bill Gates versus Education Historian Diane Ravitch

In a recent magazine article, billionaire Bill Gates, who has used grants from his philanthropic foundation to assume a key role in steering educational policy across the nation, reproaches education historian Diane Ravitch for saying his version of education reform is hurting America’s schools. Unfortunately for Gates, Ravitch has now responded to telling effect, in the online version of the...

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Evaluating “Value-Added” Measurement of Teacher Effectiveness: Not Just a Houston Problem

A public forum sponsored by the Houston Federation of Teachers last week shed some needed light on the frailty of the value-added methodology in use in Houston ISD. But many issues raised at the forum pertain to all value-added methodologies currently in use to measure teachers' effects on student learning, not just to the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) adopted...

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Another Independent Study Casts Doubt on Value-Added Models of Teacher Evaluation–Specifically Including the Houston ISD Version

Policy-makers may be drawn to the simplicity of reducing teacher evaluation to a "value-added" score based on achievement tests, but they are neglecting an expanding body of educational research that shows this seeming simplicity comes at the expense of accuracy. Educational historian Diane Ravitch, in her latest "Bridging Differences" blog entry (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2010/10/dear_deborah_you_asked_what.html), cites a new study from the Annenberg Institute...

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A Test for Legislators: Questions About Test-Driven School Accountability

In the 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions, Texas lawmakers enacted significant future changes in the state's test-focused accountability system. The changes include use of end-of-course exams instead of an exit-level exam as a high-school graduation requirement, along with tougher tests at all levels that are supposedly calibrated to show progress toward "college readiness." The latter is defined as readiness for...

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“Black Box” Value-Added Teacher Appraisal Under Scrutiny in Houston

An October 7 forum sponsored by the Houston Federation of Teachers will try to shine some much-needed light on Houston ISD’s "black box" methodology for statistical modeling of teachers’ effect on student learning, called the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS). The district is using this controversial methodology for high-stakes decisions about teacher evaluation, compensation, and termination, yet the precise workings...

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Budget, School Finance, Accountability Issues of 2011 Session Foreshadowed in Upcoming Hearings

Some noteworthy hearings in the next couple of weeks will preview issues sure to preoccupy lawmakers when the legislature meets for its next regular session in January. For example: September 14–The state’s budget for public education for 2012-2013 comes up for a public hearing next Tuesday in front of staffers of the Legislative Budget Board and Governor’s Budget Office. These...

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