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This interview by Texas Tribune was shared by the Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment (TAMSA). It features Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams discussing the state’s standardized testing policies and practices.

After watching this video, I wanted to share some thoughts about what the Commissioner shared with TribLive.

Testing disrupts the instruction of all students on the campus — not just the ones testing.

Typically on testing days, there are no special classes (Music, Art, Spanish, PE), no recess, quiet lunches, no outside and visitors to campuses. Non-testing classrooms have to be very quite all day long throughout the building.

Additionally, certified teachers are pulled from their non-testing classrooms to give a tests to small groups of students and subs are hired in their place. This means non-testing students aren’t even getting instruction for their regular teacher.

The “local school district testing” the Commissioner states school districts do are mostly in preparation for these official state testing days. Teachers and students must have time to practice the policies and procedures required for testing security.

Teachers must spend several days in training each year reviewing the testing policies and procedures. This time is not used for instruction — planning lessons, preparing for classes, designing work of low performing students, meeting with other teachers about curriculum and student needs — this time is used to prepare teachers to follow the strict guidelines of testing security.

By the way, the state’s official testing days do not include make-ups for absence students, extra time for students to qualify, nor re-take days for students who did not met standard the first administration.

Finally, we have no release STAAR assessments. When the TAKS first came out, the state released the test for the first two years. But for STAAR, educators only have sample released test questions. This is simply not enough information for teachers to prepare students appropriately for these assessments.

I hope non-educators are keeping up with educational news and staying informed. Please let me know your thoughts, questions, and concerns in the comments below.