Topic: CHIC 3339 Discussion Board 3 State Testing
Please share your insights on the scandal affecting El Paso as a result of cheating created by the district. Nathan focuses on the experience of three students who were kicked out of Bowie H.S. because it was felt they would not do as well thus bring down district averages.
Provided the material given by my professor to help answer
If you have lived in Texas or any other state, there is no doubt that state testing has been part of your school experience. But why did it come about? What were the politics determining the development of those tests? Here I want to give you a brief overview of state testing and the developments that led to policies affecting millions of students in public schools.
This background will tie into the reading for this week by Debbie Nathan. Her article is concerned with a cheating scandal that affected El Paso between the years 2009 and 2012. But in truth, the scandal continues to impact the city since many of the educators arresting in the cheating scheme, continue their cases in local courts. Before going into this case, a little history.
In 1983, an education commission sponsored by the Federal Government, published a report titled, A Nation at Risk. The goal of the report was to determine why the U.S. was losing its number one ranking around the world. One chapter addressed schooling. It found that many high school seniors were grading with poor math and reading skills, not attending college, or even graduating. It is important here for you to be clear on one important finding: The students mentioned in the report were members of different ethnic groups including Whites. This report set the tone for two outcomes. One was the concept of “youth at risk” and university courses determining if college seniors could read and write. In California, for example, it became law that all seniors had to pass this specific course if they wanted to graduate.
By 1996, another report was published by the Federal government, this time under the direction of President George H. Bush, Sr. This report was titled, National Education Goals 2000. The goal of the report was to establish national standards in the curriculum. The goal of the standards was to set goals for all students to achieve. Even President Bush was hopeful saying at one point that it would help all students be college ready by the year 2000. But how does one measure goals? This is where state testing comes into play. Once it was decided that testing would be the path to follow, several states were selected to experiment with testing. This went on for a few years.
At the same time, his son, George W. Bush, Jr. had been governor of Texas. He had been shocked to discover the schooling in Texas ranked 47th of 50 states. He was pressed to do something about it. Following the suggestions from Goals 2000, the Texas Education Agency, helped develop a test that came to be known as TAAS. In a matter of a couple years, the scores sent Texas schooling up the charts from 47th to (and do not quote me) the top 20. People were amazed. They called it the Texas Miracle.
By the year 2000, Bush had become President. Discussions about his agenda centered on education. There was a need for a new Federal law to guide education to a better place. Bush had been told to develop the Texas Miracle on a national basis. He liked the idea and gave the go ahead to his staff to ensure the new law was developed. This came to known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2002). One element of this law was to develop state testing for all states. States would be charged with contracting educators or publishers to make sure the work would be completed. The goal would be to ensure that standards would be met. At the same time President Bush, Jr. stated publicly that the tests would help educators determine who needed help and insure help was given. There were many applauses.
Actually, that never happened because states demanded that all districts ensure students were passing the tests. How did they do this? In our case, the Texas Education Agency demanded of all superintendents that they see to it that students were prepped to pass the exam. Superintendents met with school principals and demanded that they push teachers to ensure students pass the tests (at the time grade levels, 3, 7, and 11 were to take the tests). Teachers pushed students by developing practice sessions during the year the test would be taken, usually in the spring.
Students developed anxiety, stress, and felt pressure to do well. Some schools did, others did not.
NCLB stipulated that if standards were not being met, the state could take over the school. Teachers could be fired, and in the end, close the school. It did happen. I know of one school in the Dallas area that was closed. Sadly, it was a school serving African American students.
My point here is that the push to do well worked against students. Superintendents were afraid for their jobs, but so were teachers. And it is this very scenario that could lead to corruption. El Paso Independent School District is the district under consideration, but there were many more and Nathan mentions only a few.
So please read her piece. It should concern you because it is in our backyard. And many of you were part of this district. There will be a discussion board so you can express your thoughts on the matter.
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