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Texans Advocating for Meaningful State Assessments (TAMSA) is known in Texas as Moms Against Drunk Testing. In the past, they successfully lobbied the Legislature to drops plan to require students to pass 15 high school exit exams to graduate. The number remained five.
They issued this statement, called ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
“TAMSA Calls for Moratorium due to Testing Errors
“In his news release today, Thomas Ratliff, Vice Chairman of the State Board of Education, brings to light serious issues of misalignment between the STAAR US History EOC and the state mandated curriculum. Based on these and ongoing concerns with the validity of the test, Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment (TAMSA) calls for a moratorium on using the STAAR tests, and at the very least, the US History EOC, for high stakes purposes related to student graduation and school accountability.
“It is fundamentally unfair to hold students or schools accountable for questions that are not contained explicitly in the curriculum standards” said Dineen Majcher, President of the Board of Directors of TAMSA. Ratliff describes two questions on the US History EOC that asked for information about historical figures, but those specific historical figures were not included in the current TEKS. In one case, the figure, Shirley Chisholm, was removed from the TEKS in 2010.
“The logical conclusion is that 1) either the testing vendor was utilizing an outdated version of the TEKS on which to base questions, or 2) there is an underlying assumption that any historical figure fitting general criteria, whether or not they are mentioned in the TEKS, is fair game. “Neither conclusion is acceptable,” said Majcher. “If students are not given a full opportunity to learn what is tested, there are serious consequences for the system. It is completely unfair to students and teachers to have a high stakes test that is not based clearly and unequivocally on known material that is required to be taught, and instead on information not specified in the curriculum.” Already on shaky ground when legislators like Jimmie Don Aycock, Dan Patrick, Larry Taylor, and Kel Seliger have declared that the current STAAR system is broken, further proof has parents across the state declaring that “enough is enough.”
“Based on concerns over test alignment with curriculum standards, and fundamental fairness to students to learn what will be tested, TAMSA is requesting:
“1. An immediate moratorium on the stakes associated with STAAR tests.
“2. A complete review of the tests to ensure the vendor has utilized current TEKS and that the test questions are properly aligned with state curriculum.
“3. An exploration by the attorney general, or other appropriate state official, of whether the test questions not aligned with the curriculum should be the basis for action against the testing vendor, particularly if outdated standards were the basis for the faulty questions.
““We cannot continue to hold our students and schools accountable for performance on these tests when the State cannot guarantee that these tests are valid.” Putting a moratorium on the high-stakes means that the STAAR tests would still be administered and scores reported, but performance on the tests would not prevent students from being promoted to the next grade or from graduating. Also, schools’ ratings based on STAAR test scores would not be altered during the moratorium. “If we are to continue to administer state-designed assessments, we must have 100% certainty that the tests are aligned with the curriculum that the State has required” said Majcher. Without a guarantee that the tests are completely aligned with the curriculum, a moratorium on using those tests for high stakes purposes is essential.”
In your next action, dare the legislators to take the tests they mandate and publish their scores. Double-dare.