Definition evolving, agency head says
said Zyskowski had dropped a “bombshell” with her disclosure, which had not been told to school districts.
“You can make it look like not as many kids need remediation just by lowering your standards,” Thompson said in an interview. “It doesn’t change what kids really need.”
Drew Scheberle, vice president of education for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, agreed in an interview.
“The passing standard and the college readiness standard should not be the same thing,” Scheberle said. “College readiness ought to mean college readiness.”
Zyskowski said the definition has been evolving, but she denied that it Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce was set lower based on the performance on the first administration of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readi- ness last spring.
The satisfactory standard means that a student is sufficiently prepared for college but might need some remediation. Thompson noted that the law states explicitly that college readiness means a student is prepared for an entry-level course without remediation.
The school districts are arguing that the Legislature has failed to provide adequate resources for schools to bring students up to the more rigorous college-ready standards. The state maintains it’s the job of the school districts, not the state, to meet those standards.
Assistant Attorney General Nichole Bunker-Henderson walked Zyskowski through the state’s testing iterations over the years and emphasized that the rigor has been increasing.
Bunker-Henderson showed a sample question from the 1982 exitlevel test and asked how it would compare to questions today.
“I don’t know that we would have an item that would be quite this simple even on the third-grade test,” Zyskowski said.
Zyskowski testified that student performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, the precursor to STAAR, had improved each year and the achievement gap between student groups had narrowed.
Asked if STAAR performance will follow that trajectory, Zyskowsi said: “The expectation is the same pattern would prevail.”
Zyskowski, who once said at a conference that STAAR would be “really, really hard,” denied that the passing standards were set too high.