Monday, April 23, 2012

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

The following resolution was passed unanimously by the Texas Association of School Administrators and has, as of 4-25-12, been accepted and passed by over 407 school districts across Texas as we build toward a national resolution:

WHEREAS, the over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing as the only assessment of learning that really matters in the state and federal accountability systems is strangling our public schools and undermining any chance that educators have to transform a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepares our students to live successfully and be competitive on a global stage; and

WHEREAS, we commend Robert Scott, Commissioner of Education, for his concern about the overemphasis on high stakes testing that has become “a perversion of its original intent” and for his continuing support of high standards and local accountability; and

WHEREAS, we believe our state’s future prosperity relies on a high-quality education system that prepares students for college and careers, and without such a system Texas’ economic competitiveness and ability and to attract new business will falter; and

WHEREAS, the real work of designing more engaging student learning experiences requires changes in the culture and structure of the systems in which teachers and students work; and

WHEREAS, what occurs in our classrooms every day should be student-centered and result in students learning at a deep and meaningful level, as opposed to the superficial level of learning that results from the current over-emphasis on that which can be easily tested by standardized tests; and

WHEREAS, We believe in the tenets set out in Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas (TASA, 2008) and our goal is to transform this district in accordance with those tenets; and

WHEREAS, Our vision is for all students to be engaged in more meaningful learning activities that cultivate their unique individual talents, to provide for student choice in work that is designed to respect how they learn best, and to embrace the concept that students can be both consumers and creators of knowledge; and

WHEREAS, only by developing new capacities and conditions in districts and schools, and the communities in which they are embedded, will we ensure that all learning spaces foster and celebrate innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication and critical thinking; and

WHEREAS, these are the very skills that business leaders desire in a rising workforce and the very attitudes that are essential to the survival of our democracy; and

WHEREAS, imposing relentless test preparation and boring memorization of facts to enhance test performance is doing little more than stealing the love of learning from our students and assuring that we fall short of our goals; and

WHEREAS, we do not oppose accountability in public schools and we point with pride to the performance of our students, but believe that the system of the past will not prepare our students to lead in the future and neither will the standardized tests that so dominate their instructional time and block our ability to make progress toward a world-class education system of student-centered schools and future-ready students; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the _____________ ISD Board of Trustees calls on the Texas Legislature to re-examine the public school accountability system in Texas and to develop a system that encompasses multiple assessments, reflects greater validity, uses more cost efficient sampling techniques and other external evaluation arrangements, and more accurately reflects what students know, appreciate and can do in terms of the rigorous standards essential to their success, enhances the role of teachers as designers, guides to instruction and leaders, and nurtures the sense of inquiry and love of learning in all students.

For more information see Texas Association of School Administrators, .  The constantly updated list of Texas school districts who have approved this resolution is found at .

This resolution was submitted by one trustee for the DISD Board of Trustees to consider, but has not been accepted for placement on the board meeting agenda for consideration.  Why?  Here is a news story on that issue: 

All candidates now campaigning for positions on the Dallas ISD School Board should be asked about their opinion on the board voting on this resolution.  Then they should be asked separately be asked about their own personal position on this resolution.  Their answers will demonstrate their awareness of what is happening in DISD classrooms, and their concerns.

There are plans to collect signatures, and stand, in support of this resolution at the 4-26-12 Board meeting starting at 7:00 PM at DISD headquarters, 3700 Ross, in Dallas.  While some board members are wanting to put this off for a month so as to change the wording, both the re-wording and the delay lessen the potential impact. To pass it now, worded the same as the resolution now passed by 407 school districts (27 more than two days ago), will send a stronger message to the Texas Legislature, and the world! Different wording, combined with a delay, weaken the message.
See what is being done on the state level at .  Dr. Diane Ravitch posted only two days ago about the national movement.  See  Texas is emerging as a leader in this movement for reasonable testing!

Ultimately a significantly modified resolution by DISD was passed on 5-24-12.  It can be seen and studied at .