The standardized test quagmire

A story in the Austin American Statesman (“Standardized tests with high stakes are bad for learning, studies show“), Carolyn J. Heinrich shares what she learned as a member of a National Academies of Science committee that reviewed the nation’s test-based accountability systems. She concludes that while testing has its merits, high-states testing leads students and teachers will respond inappropriately at times.

Unfortunately, what the research has also definitively shown is that people will respond to these incentives in both intended and unintended ways, and the less control they feel they have over the measured outcomes and the more stringent the targets or performance tests, the more likely they are to respond perversely.

Texas needs to have a meaningful debate over accountability that goes beyond politicians proclaiming that high-stakes testing is the only means of creating accountability and dismissing anyone who doubts the value of test scores as heretics unconcerned about education. The current system appears have created a false sense of accountability and become a major distraction to learning.

I often feel that Texas is bogged down in a political quagmire because elected officials are afraid to reopen the debate and discover they have failed a generation of Texas students.

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