Think back to the year 2000 when W was running for president the first time and boasting about the amazing educational achievements of Texas schools during his tenure as Governor – the Texas "miracle". And the center piece of this amazing transformation was the Houston Independent School District (HISD) under the leadership of his soon-to-be Secretary of Education, Roderick Page.
Flash forward now to 2005 and the miracle that was HISD is looking very tarnished. After several years of revelations that the single digit drop out rates and high test scores were more the result of fancy accounting, the current superintendent is proposing a plan that basically scraps most of the district administrative structure and greatly reduces the overwhelming emphasis on standardized testing, both legacies from Paige’s administration.
He also plans to cut the number of days HISD students spend taking tests by eliminating some standardized exams.
Some students now lose a full month of instruction time to testing.
"If we’re going to make a large dent in our kids not having to take remedial classes in college, we’ve got to pay attention to more than the (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills)," Saavedra said.
"If we improve our instructional programs, our scores will improve," he said. "We don’t have to chase test scores."
What a concept! Improve instruction and student learning will improve! Maybe after W’s current national policy of continuous standardized testing proves to be something less than a magic wand, we can try something really radical like that.