Con: 'Fewer tests serves most children best'

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

April 14, 2013 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated April 13, 2013 at 11:14 p.m.

Victoria school board President Tami Keeling said she staunchly supports the reduction in standardized testing.

"One thing to be sure to point out is that we have the highest number of assessments by more than double in the nation," Keeling said.

With the reduction of exams from 15 to five, the state would save $12.5 million annually, according to the Legislative Budget Board.

"It's expensive," Keeling said. "And what does it really tell us?"

We need to have an accountability system that emphasizes learning and not "teaching to the test," wrote VISD Superintendent Robert Jaklich. "Texas currently outspends every state in the nation on testing."

California, which has nearly 1 million more students enrolled in grades three through eight, for which testing is federally required, spent about $53 million on standardized tests, according to a November 2012 Brookings Institution Study.

Texas spends about $85 million annually.

Putting the money in the pockets of educators instead of test writers would better serve Texas children, said Keeling.

"Everybody agrees that we should have an accountability system," Keeling said. "But what we're saying is let's do it in a reasonable fashion."

Keeling said she believes the state needs to record student growth, and other measures outside of state assessments can be taken, including advanced placement, SAT and ACT exam scores.

"Having fewer tests serves most children best," Keeling said.

Before the STAAR was implemented in 2012, students were required to pass four exams under the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

Victoria West High School freshman Brooklynn Canchola, 15, stretched her arms out after enduring four hours of STAAR testing recently.

"The tests don't give us an accurate assessment of how we're doing in class," Brooklynn said. "And it's so much harder than the TAKS."

Everett Wood, 37, of Port Lavaca, was having trouble putting his 10-year-old son to bed one night in early April.

"My son is rolling around way past the time he normally goes to sleep," Wood said. "They're putting so much pressure on these kids."

Wood, who has two children attending Port Lavaca Elementary School, said he's against standardized testing as a whole.

The father said he takes his children to extra tutoring after school to fill the void left by teachers he believes are only teaching to the test.

"I mean, I understand the reason behind standardized testing because the state needs to know how a school is doing," Wood said. "But I don't think it should be a catchall of a student's achievement."

Randy Vivian, president of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said he supports a reduction in the number of exams.

"I don't like the way the system is set up," Vivian said. "It's become a really defeating system for the kids."

Pro: More tests provide way to assess achievement



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