A pair of mismatched Houston Chronicle articles demonstrates the failed nature of Texas’ state education standards. First, the bad news:
The number of Texas school districts rate by the state as “academically unacceptable” has increased to its highest level ever.
Next, the even worse news:
Texas’ new school rating system … helped record numbers of schools in the Houston Independent School District and across the state earn top marks.
Two hundred HISD schools — 77 percent overall — earned either a “recognized” or “exemplary” rating from the Texas Education Agency. Only 4 percent of HISD’s schools are “unacceptable” this year.
That’s great, right? Wrong. Instead of accurately measuring students’ mastery of material against objective standards, Texas’ new math vis-a-vis acceptability “gives campuses credit for improving test scores, even if students are still failing”. In other words, the standards reward marginal progress while failing to reflect the reality of overall systemic failure.
Not surprisingly, administrators whose professional chops are defined by their school’s ratings love it. Lynn Brown, the principal of McDougle Elementary in Klein ISD:
“In the old system, you’re just like, ‘Well, too bad you didn’t make it.’ I think this way of measuring their growth is very authentic.”
What a crock. Measuring against what? What the rest of the world is doing? Against an absolute sense of mastery? No, against a feel-good, proves-nothing sense of “growth”.
Brown’s attitude toward results in education demonstrates something that’s fundamentally wrong with our system of education, specifically that lack of motivation to achieve real objectives and the abandonment of the principle of honesty by those whose highest charge is to promote it.
“The irony is we actually achieved these accountability ratings by ignoring them,” Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said.
How ironic that Saavedra – he of the destructive, relativistic teacher bonus system – should be so utterly correct in his statement and so wrong at the same time. State education standards were dumbed down and cast aside. Small wonder achievement rates went up in the aftermath.