Dec 31, 2013 by


“Good News: I Was Wrong”

by Donna Garner



I must apologize for a huge oversight that I have been making. Thankfully Jeffrey Weiss, reporter for the Dallas Morning News, took the time to bring to my attention Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams’ press release dated Sept. 9, 2013, “Feds: No waiver on HB 866” ( ). 


Evidently when this 9.13.13 TEA press release was sent out, I was too busy with back-to-school activities and missed it. Therefore, I have been laboring under the assumption that HB 866 is in place for Grades 3 – 8.  I was wrong.  The provisions of HB 866 have been nullified by the USDOE.  I cannot believe the USDOE has actually done our Texas students a favor, but inadvertently the Department did.


In this 9.9.13 Texas Education Agency press release, the Commissioner explained that the U. S. Department of Education had refused to allow Texas to follow HB 866 (passed by the 83rd Legislative Session).  This means that last year’s STAAR testing program in Grades 3 – 8 will remain in place for 2013 – 2014 and for the foreseeable future ( STAAR Testing Calendar — ).


Just as in the past several years, Grades 3 – 8 students will continue being tested on the STAAR tests in each of the following grade levels in the following subject areas:


GRADE 3 – Reading, Math


GRADE 4 – Writing, Reading, Math


GRADE 5 – Math, Reading, Science


GRADE 6 – Math, Reading


GRADE 7 – Writing, Math, Reading


GRADE 8 – Math, Reading, Social Studies, Science



In the article that I wrote on 6.17.13 right after HB 866 and HB 5 were signed into law, I explained why these two bills were such a disaster — “For the Historical Record: Texas Will Rue This Day” —


The “good news” is that now Texas school districts will have to ignore the provisions in HB 866 for Grades 3 – 8.  The “bad news” is that the provisions in HB 5 (mostly pertaining to high school) are still in place.  Texas Legislators should be ashamed of themselves for having passed HB 5 and HB 866. 


Following are excerpts about HB 866 from my 6.17.13 article and explain why this bill would have destroyed “the measuring stick” in Grades 3 – 8:



HB 866 – The destruction of the “measuring stick” at each grade level



To read HB 866:





This bill means that the STAAR tests in math, reading, writing, social studies, and science will not be given in each grade level to all students. 


How will parents know whether their students have mastered the Type #1 TEKS in each grade level unless the Type #1 STAAR tests (an objective measurement – a type of “measuring stick”) are given at the end of each grade level? 



To understand the terms “Type #1 and Type #2,” please go to this link:




How will parents know whether their child’s teacher has actually taught the new Type #1 TEKS and taught them well if there is no objective measurement outside the teacher’s own grading system?


What if the child’s teacher taught Type #2 curriculum materials instead (e.g., Guided Reading, CSCOPE, Safarai Montage, TASA iCLOUD, Lead4Ward, Pat Jacoby’s, Expeditionary Learning, etc.) in the “off” testing years?  How will parents know before it is too late and their child has been indoctrinated and/or “dumbed down”?


What if parents find out too late that their Suzy Q. had teachers in Grades 5, 6, and 7 who taught Type #2 lessons instead of the Type #1 TEKS?  Example:  Type #2 — no systematic teaching of phonemic awareness/phonics, no systematic teaching of grammar/usage/ correct spelling/cursive writing, no emphasis on learning the four math functions to automaticity  –


Now Suzy Q. is in Grade 8 and is faced with failure on the STAAR tests because she does not know the Type #1 TEKS elements.  She is several grade levels behind.  She made passing grades under her Type #2 teachers, but now that Suzy Q. is confronted with Type #1 STAAR tests based upon what Suzy Q. should have been taught all along, she is in almost a hopeless situation.  This same scenario could happen in all of the grade levels where the STAAR tests are NOT administered.  “What gets tested gets taught.  What gets measured gets treasured.”     




Math – 3, 5, 8                                                         Math – 4, 6, 7

Reading – 3, 5, 8                                                    Reading – 4, 6, 7

Writing – 4, 7                                                         3, 5, 6, 8

Soc. Studies – 8                                                     3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Science – 5, 8                                                         3, 4, 6, 7




Again, I hate to admit that the U. S. Dept. of Education did Texas a favor, but they actually did by leaving the STAAR tests in place at each grade level 3-8.  This will force teachers to have to follow the Type #1 TEKS (Texas’ curriculum standards) and will allow parents to have a “measuring stick” by which to evaluate whether or not their children were taught to master the Type #1 TEKS (link to chart — ).



For once, I am glad to say, “I was wrong.”


Donna Garner

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