Thursday, December 07, 2006

David "Weather Vane" Dewhurst Dumps TAKS

Wow. What a reversal in policy. If only Bush could do to his war policy in Iraq what Lt. Governor David Dewhurst says he will do to the Texas state policy on TAKS. It seems that all of the things that Chris Bell talked about concerning TAKS tests during his campaign have just been adopted by the Republican party. I'm not kidding. Take a look for yourself. Here is an article that appeared in the Austin American Statesman just about 20 months ago.

Here’s what he said in response to endorsement by state House leaders of an education bill that would require students to pass state end of course tests, instead of passing TAKS, in order to graduate:
“Right now we need to focus on raising our performance criteria on the test,” Dewhurst said. “We just started this new test. Let’s not scrap it today.”
And these thoughts were apparently echoed by Florence Shapiro, chairman of the Senate Education committee.

So we have now subjected something like a little less than half a million students over a two year period to the TAKS test, and they have reached the same conclusion that was being recommended lo these 22 months ago.

Here’s what The Chron reported yesterday:
“Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst agreed Wednesday with some lawmakers who want to replace the TAKS test with end-of-course exams for high school students.”
And they said this, too:
“Senate Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, recently proposed scrapping the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test for end-of-course exams in the higher grade levels.”
“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive,” she said.
"I don't know of anybody who thinks it's a bad idea," Shapiro said.
Well I know of two people who DID think it’s a bad idea. Dewhurst and Shapiro. What’s different? I’ll tell you what’s different. A mid-term election that revealed Texans are mad as H-E double hockey sticks about TAKS.

And do you know what is missing from the 2005 education bill recommendation? I had to look twice. There is no onus of a graduation requirement in any of the wording in the Chron article.


So now, instead of being constant assaults on Texas senior high school students being allowed to walk across the stage in late May, the EOCs are there to evaluate what is being taught in Texas schools compared to other states.

But wait, there’s more . . .

Dewhurst wants the state to pay for every senior in Texas to take either the ACT or the SAT. Why go to that extreme? Well, it’s another way to rate how our students align with high school students in the other states. By my estimate, based on a Texas senior graduation population of about 240,000, that’s $12 million per year in state expenditures to find out if our kids are as well-educated as those in the rest of the country.

Does anyone else see the flaw in the reasoning here?

Here in Texas, 100% of our student population will take the SAT or ACT. In 49 other states, only college-bound (and not including community college-bound) high school students will take those tests.

Here’s the result, Dewhurst, and I’ll give it to you for free: Texas will show up as dead last in the country. When you compare 100% of our students with the top 50% of students in the 49 other states, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.

This pretty much goes along with what my friend Ann says about Texas voters:

“When will Texas voters learn not to vote into office the educational failures of Texas schools?”

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