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“The Worst Legislative Session Ever on Education”

By Donna Garner 

Torin Halsey/Times Record News Fifth grader Ryker Beasley pays close attention to a problem being solved on the board in math class at City View Elementary. City View teachers are the rare teachers in North Texas who do not use CSCOPE. "We'd worked so hard at what we are doing, we didn't want to dump it in the trash and jump on a new system," said City View testing director Maureen Talbott. "What we're doing seems to be working. We have teachers who are working their tails off but are pleased with what they're doing."

Torin Halsey/Times Record News Fifth grader Ryker Beasley pays close attention to a problem being solved on the board in math class at City View Elementary. City View teachers are the rare teachers in North Texas who do not use CSCOPE.

Please take the time to read these articles that explain how the Texas Legislature is deliberately dumbing down our Texas public schools.  If this trend by the Legislature continues to completion, this 83rd Legislative Session will go down in history as the Session that destroyed authentic education reform in Texas, resulting in an increase in poorly educated citizens, college students, and employees.   


5.6.13 – Commentary by William McKenzie, Dallas Morning News:  


Excerpts from this commentary:

…That’s precisely why Texas legislators need to think back through a number of their decisions this session that would lessen expectations for students. They are passing bills that will set up less rigorous high school degree plans. And they are trying to deconstruct how the state assesses students and their schools.


The latest troubling move is the Texas House’s decision last week to end the state’s writing exam for fourth- and seventh-graders. If HB 2836 becomes law, Texas students will move through elementary and middle school without ever taking a state writing achievement test. The first time they would take a state writing test would be in ninth grade.


…But do we really want to wait until ninth grade before knowing whether students are proficient in writing, especially since barely half of Texas ninth-graders passed this year’s STAAR writing exam on the first try?


Writing, after all, is fundamental to critical thinking. Steve Graham, an Arizona State University professor, studies its impact on student development. Here’s his take:

“Good writing is a complex process involving skillful planning, evaluation and revisions as well as the mastery of a host of writing skills including handwriting, typing, spelling, grammar, and sentence and paragraph construction. Students must acquire these fundamental writing processes and skills in order to create clear, compelling, and engaging text that persuades, informs, or tells a good story.”


A recent essay by Graham makes clear that he also is worried about what will happen if the Senate passes HB 2836:

“If this becomes law, students will face a single high-stakes writing test to graduate high school, without the benefit of earlier low-stakes tests to inform parents, teachers, and students of their progress towards writing proficiency.”


…Being able to communicate is a prerequisite to moving ahead after college or high school.Research from the National Writing Project, Graham says, shows 93 percent of white-collar and 80 percent of blue-collar workers contend that writing well is essential to their careers.


Yet here we are in Texas, ready to take writing out of our early testing loop. This could set up our kids for failure.


I just don’t see how this is a good thing, any more than the Legislature walking away from demanding high school degree plans. Not when education is so central to getting Texas’ future right — as well as that of the United States.



 Texas Senate Votes To Roll Back High-Stakes Testing in High School”


Austin Bureau

Excerpts from this article:


AUSTIN — High-stakes testing of high school students would be rolled back sharply under legislation that the Senate approved Monday.


Students would have to pass only five end-of-course tests to graduate — instead of the current 15 — under the Senate bill, which also revamps graduation requirements.


The legislation is similar to a bill the House has already endorsed, and differences will have to be negotiated with just three weeks left in lawmakers’ session.


But the bills set up Texas students for another sweeping change in school standards. It comes as a response to teachers’ and parents’ complaints about too much testing but also raises criticism that the state that pioneered tough accountability measures is pulling back.


…Under the Senate proposal, high school students would have to pass exams in English I and II, Algebra I, biology and U.S. history to receive a diploma. Ten other exams that students must now pass — such as English III and Algebra II — would no longer be required.


Although Gov. Rick Perry had voiced support for keeping more of the end-of-course tests, the best he could do was retain the English III and Algebra II exams as optional for school districts. The Senate bill would make the exams diagnostic. Students would not have to pass them to graduate, nor would they count in school performance ratings.


The Senate bill also would replace current graduation requirements with a new system under which students would select one of multiple paths to graduation, called “endorsements.” They include arts and humanities, business and industry, science and math, and distinguished achievement.


All students would have to take at least four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies for the basic “foundation” diploma. Students would take additional math, science and social studies depending on their graduation path. But they could also take the minimum course load, if their parents approved.


Currently, most students take four years of study in English, math, science and social studies.


Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond criticized the Senate bill, saying the weaker requirements will “doom generations of students to a mediocre education and low-wage jobs.”


…Senators approved more than two dozen amendments before passing the bill, including the option for school districts to use the English III and Algebra II end-of-course tests. The two exams are considered strong indicators of college readiness, but they would no longer have to be passed by students to graduate.


“This will give school districts important feedback on the college readiness of their students,” said Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, who offered the amendment. If districts choose to use the exams, the cost will be covered by the state.


Another change would drop an earlier plan to rate all individual campuses with letter grades instead of the current designations — exemplary, recognized, acceptable and unacceptable. But school districts as a whole would receive letter grades…


COMPARISON: Two versions of bill

Major provisions in the House and Senate education bills:



House: English II reading, English II writing, Algebra I, biology and U.S. history

Senate: English I, English II, Algebra I, biology and U.S. history



House: 24

Senate: 26 



House: Switch to letter grades for both districts and campuses

Senate: Switch to letter grades only for districts; campuses keep current ratings of exemplary, recognized, acceptable and unacceptable



House: Arts and humanities, business and industry, science and math, distinguished achievement, public services and multidisciplinary studies

Senate: Leaves out public services and multidisciplinary studies


5.2.13 – “Dumbing Down Communication Costs Lives” – by Donna Garner —  http://educationviews.org/dumbing-down-communication-costs-lives/


4.30.13 – “Texas Legislature Mucking Up Education” – by Donna Garner —http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blogs/texas-legislature-mucking-up-education-by-donna-garner-4-30-13?xg_source=activity

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