State Board of Education members pressed the Texas education commissioner on Thursday about whether an abundance of high-stakes standardized testing is warping classroom teaching to ensure students spend more time preparing for the exams then actual learning.
Robert Scott, head of the Texas Education Agency, responded that having kids cram is "a perversion of what's intended" and that tests are supposed to ensure students don't fall through the cracks while holding teachers and school districts accountable. But he also acknowledged that some schools over-prepare for tests whose results have become the overwhelming standard by which education is measured statewide.
Republican board member and Dallas English teacher George Clayton complained that some schools have become little more than testing centers, offering mini-exams every two weeks to prepare for full, end-of-the-year standardized tests.
"Perversion? It's being truthful about what's happened in many schools, that testing has taken over," Clayton said. "That's all we do is test and prepare for tests. Make an assessment, look at the data, prepare another test; from August until the end of the school year."