Legislature gets F for school grading system

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Just when it looks like the Texas Legislature can’t fail the public school system again, the state turns in a little extra credit and proves this is one subject where our elected state officials are willing to go above and beyond.

The unsettling “grades” released by the state last week for Texas school districts painted a picture of district and campus failure, and sent parents into a new sense of worry about what it all means for their

children.

The reality is that nothing has changed from two weeks or six months ago, aside from the label the state is currently using to criticize the efforts of educators.

The state’s actions are no more acceptable than screaming “fire” in a crowded theater. While the new, hard-to-understand letter grades were issued with the usual fanfare of an official assessment, they also came with a small caveat in the fine print that said parents should not assume anything about current rankings from these new

grades.

Too late. 

When was the last time anyone could say something negative about a school and not raise eyebrows or get parents immediately worked up? So now, in addition to trying to keep up with the most recent test and or accountability system in Texas, schools are spending a good deal of time that could be dedicated to teaching, trying to explain the new system to hundreds of stressed -

out parents.

This constantly shifting effort – by those who know nothing about education – to evaluate Texas public education in a punitive way is doing nothing but tearing

our system apart.

Students themselves, by their nature, make a quality education a moving, elusive target. Add in a bunch of politicians bent on saving money while pretending they suddenly know how to teach, and you don’t need a chemistry teacher to know you have a recipe for disaster.

Does anyone truly believe that Leander ISD is on the verge of failing on any level? This is no hug-a-thon, full of flowers and grand accolades, but in spite of any shortcomings or areas of need, if this district is about to fail, the entire state is in a world of educational collapse.

It is time the legislature did its job and worked on how to best fund public education adequately, spending less time on the policy of how to educate. But that’s what the Texas legislature is about today, occupying its time with anything but funding issues, instead relying on the smoke and mirrors of moral decay and unsatisfactory effort to create a better world.

Who suffers? In the end, everyone does, but students are the ones punished most by this method of measuring

education.

As an example, my daughter ended the first semester of third grade with all A’s. Her reading level is seventh grade. She has – thankfully – not struggled with anything in school so far and loves to learn. But she was one of thousands of students this last weekend fretting over her upcoming standardized tests. Why? It is because we have schools and teachers so focused on test scores that their anxiety and frustration is passed right on through to the students

themselves.

We don’t scare our children away from stepping into the batter’s box the first time, as they take their first plunge in the deep end, or sing in front of an auditorium full of parents. We want our children to believe in themselves and have confidence. We want to believe we have prepared them for that challenge. Why should this be any different?

It is only different because the state has decided to consistently publicly shame our school districts rather than take up the hard work to improve them. 

An education is not one big test. Neither is the process of providing

one.

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