Plan adds flexibility, but is still test-heavy
2009 law that established the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR.
Hammond, whose group represents many of the state’s largest employers, was joined by leaders from the Texas Business Leadership Council, which is a group of top corporate executives from across the state, and the Texas Institute for Education Reform.
The groups have consistently opposed any significant changes to the testing and accountability system. Last summer, they vowed to use their considerable political clout to oppose any increase in public education funding if efforts to roll back the system went forward.
But opposition to STAAR has been building for about a year among parents whose ninthgrade children last spring were the first to take the more rigorous and consequential end-of-course exams. In recent months, other business interests have begun to mobilize an effort to loosen the graduation requirements and give more options to students not headed to college.
Hammond said the proposal is a recognition of that changing political reality. But it got a cool reception from all sides after its release Wednesday.
Some said the plan was still too reliant on standardized tests, while others said it undermines the objective of ensuring students are ready for college or good jobs upon graduation.
“A transition from 15 to 13 end-of-course exams is hardly reducing the high-stakes nature of the current testing system that parents, educators, business leaders and some legislators are clamoring for,” said Suzanne Marchman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Administrators.
A parents’ group, Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, echoed that sentiment.
Texas Workforce Commissioner Tom Pauken, who has announced that he is leaving that position, said the new plan failed to “clear away the state’s regulatory straitjacket that hinders a multiple pathway approach to a high school diploma.”
Meanwhile, Drew Scheberle of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce said the proposal waters down the testing and accountability system too much and amounts to a “politically derived, made-up standard.”