Spring 2017

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

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Page 28 of 43

The administration of the 2017 STAAR test will mark the 36th year of standardized testing in Texas. Perhaps no other educational issue in the state has generated as much discussion and divisiveness. Whether you ask the state legislature, the State Board of Education, superintendents, princi- pals, teachers, parents, or students, everyone has an opinion about stan- dardized testing. More than ten years ago, we wrote an article entitled "Texas' Journey from TABS to TAKS: With Stops at TEAMS and TAAS Along the Way," document- ing the 25th anniversary of standard- ized testing in Texas. This article appeared in the Fall 2005 issue of ATPE News. Since then, many changes have occurred and now it's time to saddle up again and revisit the testing journey. As we stated in our previous article, this is not a journey for the faint of heart! IN THE BEGINNING The saga began in 1978 when the 66th Legislature passed Senate Bill 350, which required the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to adopt and administer criterion-refer- enced assessments of basic reading, writing, and math competencies. The Texas Assessment of Basic Skills (TABS) was developed, and Texas's standardized assess- ment odyssey was off and running. Over the past 36 years, there have been several tests developed under the guidance of the TEA. As educators, we all became familiar with the acronyms for the various tests: TABS, TEAMS, TAAS, TAKS, and STAAR. Each it- eration increased the rigor, or the curriculum alignment, of the tests. Table 1 is a timeline of the histor- ical development of the tests and the impact that each change had on curriculum and assessment. In educational parlance, there is an adage that states "what gets test- ed gets taught." Although assess- ment should inform instruction, in reality it drives instruction. This is especially true if educators are held accountable for the outcome of the assessment. It is critical that the desired educational outcomes are truly being assessed. If the curriculum and assessment are aligned, instruction will follow. Does the latest iteration of standardized testing, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), achieve this goal? STAAR STAAR was implemented in 2011 and includes the fol- lowing assessments for grades 3-8: • Grade 3: math and reading • Grade 4: math, reading, and writing In educational parlance, there is an adage that states "what gets tested gets taught." TABLE 1. HISTORI C AL DEVELOPMENT OF STANDARDIZED TESTING IN TEXAS Assessment Implementation Date Effect Texas Assessment of Basic Skills (TABS) 1979-80 Criterion-referenced assessment of basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics Texas Educational Assessment of Minimum Skills (TEAMS) 1985-86 Criterion-referenced assessment congruent with the "essential elements" Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS ) 1990-91 Criterion-referenced assessment designed to be more comprehensive and focus on higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) 2002-03 Criterion-referenced assessment of performance on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) 2011-12 Criterion-referenced and end-of-course assessments designed to measure readiness for success in subsequent grade levels and ultimately for college and career readiness ATPE NEWS 29

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