The Unintended Consequences Of HB 1

Posted in Around The State at 8:24 am by wcnews

No politician in this state deserves more credit for shining a light on the over-reliance on the TAKS test in Texas public schools than Chris Bell. He was out front on this even before the current the Perry/Sharp plan was put through the legislature which has focused attention on the TAKS. Many agree the new Perry tax-swap will make Texas public schools even more reliant on the TAKS.

The Texas Federation of Teachers (TFT) has put forth their assessment of what’s to come and they say that HB 1 has taken the power away from the legislature and the local schools and put that power in the hands of the commissioner of education, who is appointed by the governor. The TFT states the three new powers HB 1 will give to the commissioner are to come up with new measures of annual student improvement, implement the largest merit pay program for teacher’s in the nation, and to privatize public schools ranked unacceptable on any perfromance measure.

This all comes on the heels of the latest findings, this time by an independent consultant, of possible cheating on the TAKS test. If there’s cheating now and you’re about to tie salaries to how students score on this test..well I’ll let you do the math. The point being that as you take more and more power out of the teacher’s and local officials hands you give them less of a reason to keep teading. Driving quality teahers away is not a good thing and will cause many unintended consequences. Not to mention that it’s always best for employees to “buy-in” to the plan, be invested in the outcome for it to work. The incentive should be to teach children well, not make money.
Here’s what Chris Bell said this week on the house floor to the Junior Statesmen of America 2006 Texas Symposium on Leadership and Politics:

“I’m all for accountability, but standardized testing shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all of what we teach our kids. They’ve gone from ‘teaching to the test’ to ‘teaching the test,’” said Bell. “The folks running schools in Austin act like testing will make our kids smarter. Testing won’t make our kids smarter just like using a ruler doesn’t make you taller.”

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