A Reader Writes… Pretty Lies and Powerful Truths – Part 1

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In response to the 9/25/12 post, “Pretty Lies and Powerful Truths (A),” a LYS Assistant Superintendent writes:

SC,

In Texas we have gone through several test cycles: TABS, TEAMS, TAAS, TAKS, and now STAAR. During each cycle, scores went from bust to boom, as educators overwhelmingly met the challenge put before them. Politicians however, never lost a chance to make political hay! At the end of the TEAMS cycle, scores were up but, “The test was too easy,” they (the politicians) said.

In the TAAS cycle, scores were low in the beginning and the politicians said, “See, we told you we needed higher standards.”

Scores improved dramatically, but there was little credit given to teachers.  Instead the tried and true criticism was used again, “This TAAS test is just too easy.”

So the TAAS test was replaced with the TAKS test.  And once again we lived through the low scores to much improved scores pattern. And once again we were told that the improved scores were not due to the hard work of educators but because the TAKS test wasn’t rigorous enough.

Now we are entering the STAAR era.  We haven’t seen all the scores yet (heck, contrary to the spirit of transparency and professionalism, the state hasn’t even let us see the test), but we expect that the initial results will not be pretty.  But instead of giving schools a chance to adapt to this increased accountability, our legislature is going to use this “poor” performance as proof of the need for vouchers.

In my career, this is the 4th time that standards have been increased, and each time teachers in Texas have risen to the challenge. Yet credit is never given. Curricular expectations were a mess in the 1980′s Texas, but that has changed dramatically. Where is the recognition for this accomplishment? Why do we continue to allow politicians to use our good scores during re-election time, then to ignore us once elected?

Once again, teachers in Texas are under attack, this time for AYP. Almost 50% of campuses failed to meet AYP and more than 70% of districts failed to meet AYP. Do you really believe that this is not by design? NEW standards and a NEW test, both occurring at the same time that AYP standards reached the levels where all schools/districts were destined to fail. I remember promises to fix NCLB, but not one blessed thing has been done to adjust the most damaging expectation, the 100% requirement. There is no doubt this is intentional, it is now providing more cover for the politicians and anti-public schoolers to implement their agenda.

We must stop this no-win, self-perpetuating accountability system that ensures that teachers can never be good enough.  And if you think this is by accident, just look at the pattern above.

SC Response I just want to add two more points.

1. We have to remember that each time the standard of performance has been increased, there has been a corresponding decrease in resources.  Meaning that for over a generation, teachers in Texas have been doing increasingly more with increasingly less. In Texas, when it comes to public schools funding, the maxim that you get what you pay for is a lie.  In Texas, not only do we get much better than what we pay for, but we also begrudge educators for not doing even more.

2. Both the cause and solution to this is political. Those that we have elected to office over the past 15 years have orchestrated this situation.  If we continue to elect these people and those who believe like them, the situation will continue along its current trajectory.  Or you can vote for those who will fund and support public schools.  The choice is that clear. 

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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