BAD IDEA TO LINK TEXAS STUDENTS WITH NATIONAL TESTS
3.1.13 — UPDATE: After I sent out Bill Hammond’s article yesterday (“Texas Business Leaders Alarmed – Dumbing Down Texas Schools” (http://educationviews.org/business-leaders-alarmed-by-new-effort-to-abandon-texas-learning-standards/), I began to receive e-mails from Texans who remember the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) as being a good test. These people are thinking that perhaps it would be a fine idea for Texas to dump its STAAR/EOC tests and use a nationally normed test such as ITBS.
In the first place, the ITBS is only for grades K to 8; and the ITBS is not aligned with the curriculum standards adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education in English, Science, Social Studies, and Math. Without the STAAR/EOC’s at each grade level, how will parents know whether their children have mastered the TEKS at each grade level? Without children mastering the concepts as they proceed through school, at some point their gaps in knowledge and skills will begin to show up – probably when it is too late for those gaps to be plugged. It is almost impossible to remediate all of those gaps, and teachers (and taxpayers who pay for that remediation) are left to try to get students caught up. While students are being remediated, their other classmates are learning new concepts; and the remediated students fall further behind.
Right now colleges and universities are filled with students who are taking remedial classes for which they (and the taxpayers) pay big bucks without receiving any graduation credits. The New Plan in Texas is trying to correct that problem by establishing set goals at each grade level/each course and then testing students at the end to make sure they have the pre-requisite skills to be successful in the next grade level/course.
Another very disturbing consideration is that the state of Iowa (along with 44 other states and D. C.) has joined the Common Core Standards. How long will it be before the ITBS (the IOWA Test for Basic Skills) will morph into the Common Core Standards?
Other national tests cannot even be trusted. David Coleman is the new head of The College Board. He was the architect of the Common Core Standards for English and has never taught English nor taught in K to 12. Yet his Common Core Standards for English are telling K to 12 English teachers in 45 states (and D. C.) what to teach, even going so far as to limit the percentage of fiction English teachers will be allowed to teach – 50% in elementary schools and only 30% in high school.
David Coleman as head of The College Board has already said that he is going to align the SAT and the Advanced Placement (AP) tests with the Common Core Standards. (Unfortunately, this will impact even the home schoolers and the private school students, too.)
I am urging Texans to realize that our best decision is for our state to keep its own standards and then test our students over those Texas standards. The STAAR/EOC’s do just that. We certainly do not want our K to 12 students to be tied to any other states or to any other states’ tests. Our Texas standards and tests are Type #1. We cannot count on any other tests and/or curriculum coming out of any other states being Type #1. If our Texas students will master our Texas standards, then these students will have the foundational knowledge and skills, the analytical and logical thinking, to be able to cope with any challenges that come their way after high school, including becoming well-informed voters.
TYPE #1 vs. TYPE #2
*Donna Garner’s terminology and definitions:
(1) Type #1 Philosophy of Education: Knowledge-based, academic, clearly worded, grade-level-specific content that is tested largely through objectively scored tests — These standards (TEKS) are built from K through Grade 12 and are taught mostly through direct, systematic instruction. The new TEKS adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education since May 2008 are Type #1, and the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests built upon the new TEKS are Type #1.
Type #1 standards could be referred to as the traditional method – the method of teaching that people perhaps 50 years old and older experienced when they were in school. This included the teaching of phonics, grammar, correct usage/spelling, cursive handwriting, classical literature, expository/persuasive/research writing, the four math functions taught to automaticity, fact-based and discreet courses in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Calculus, U. S. History, World History, Botany, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry.
(2) Type #2 Philosophy of Education (adopted in July 1997 and reflected in the TEKS and TAKS) — Project-based, subjective (emphasize cognitive domain – beliefs, opinions, emotions), subjectively assessed based upon the value system of the evaluator — emphasize multiculturalism, political correctness, environmental extremism, diversity, social justice agenda — These standards are built backwards from Grade 12 down to K (similar to trying to build a house from the roof down) and are taught mostly using the constructivist (project-based) approach.
Type #2 can be seen in Obama’s social justice agenda (i.e., Common Core Standards) that includes an emphasis on subjectivity, feelings, emotions, beliefs, multiculturalism, political correctness, social engineering, globalism, evolution, sexual freedom/contraceptives instead of abstinence, environmental extremism, global warming, victimization, diversity, an acceptance of the normalcy of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender lifestyle, redistribution of wealth, a de-emphasis on — factual knowledge, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Founding Fathers, and American exceptionalism.