College Guide

Blog

March 28, 2013 1:56 PM Too Many Tests in Texas?

By Daniel Luzer

So now businesses in Texas apparently think students are spending too much time on bubble tests. The lone star state has focused on standardized tests for years as part of its effort to institute accountability in the state’s public elementary and secondary schools. The state emphasized that strict standards meant ”failure is not an option.” But it’s not working out so well.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek:

A coalition of 22 industry trade organizations said Monday it strongly supports a bill to reduce standardized testing and increase emphasis on career training in high schools statewide, endorsing the high-profile proposal a day before the Texas House is scheduled to debate it.

If the bill (House Bill 5) passes students would only need to pass five standardized tests, instead of the current 15, examinations needed to graduate from high school.

This bill comes as part of a statewide concern (see Texas standardized test protestors below) that the state is focusing too much on test preparation in schools. Critics protest that the bill represents a dumbing down of Texas standards.

STARRHaters

They’re both right. If Texas reduces the number of exams required to complete high school that will make it easier for students to graduate, require less effort from students, and probably decrease the number of high school students who graduate ready for college.

But just because the state has high standards doesn’t mean the standards are good. It’s possible to require more testing than is necessary and more than students really need to succeed. Texas seems to have figured this out.

Think about it like this: As part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, she focuses on “increasing opportunities for kids to be physically active, both in and out of school.” This is in an effort to reduce obesity among children and adolescents. Well how about if we got really serious about it? No excuses. ”Failure is not an option.” Every high school student will have to run 18 miles every day. If that happened adolescent obesity would plummet. There would be high standards and accountability and everyone would be working extra hard to do a good job.

And also a few students would probably die. Many students would pass out and have to go to emergency rooms. And the 18-mile run would take up so much time that schools could focus on little else.

If your standards are extra high that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pushing everyone to success. If the standards are delusional that just means you’re pushing more people to failure. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

Comments

  • Brian T. Raven on March 31, 2013 1:46 PM:

    If the College Guide Blog gets a chance, it would be useful and interesting to get your take on the relatively recent infatuation with the school system in Finland. How much of what they've learned is applicable to the US, and elsewhere? There's an almost-too-good-to-be-true aura about it that would benefit from some high-intensity illumination and a microscope.