2023 Texas Legislature: Assessment and Accountability is More Than 32 Questions 

March 30, 2023  

Guest Blog by Dr. Alicia Noyola, Superintendent of Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District

Public schools across Texas work year-round to prepare students for a successful future. Our schools are where our Texas students discover their passions, cultivate their skills, and build the foundation for the rest of their lives. Since public schools are the heart of Texas communities, why do we base their success on one test taken on one day? 

Dr. Alicia Noyola, Superintendent of Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, understands that teachers, students, and parents care about more aspects within their public school than a single test can measure. And Noyola is not alone. Raise Your Hand Texas spoke with over 15,600 people across Texas about Assessment and Accountability. We listened and learned what community members and parents want to be measured in their public schools. Noyola is a champion for change and encourages Texas to measure what matters. In February, Noyola was one of the dozens of educators and community members who participated in Raise Your Hand Texas’ nine-city Measure What Matter media tour. She spoke about the importance of assessment and accountability for schools in the Rio Grande Valley and across Texas. 

Her words from the podium were powerful. They resonated with parents, business and community leaders, educators, and students in Harlingen, across the Rio Grande Valley, and around Texas. 

Thank you for sharing your time and your voice with us and for supporting the 5.4 million public school students across Texas.

From Dr. Alicia Noyola: “I believe that all of us have the same goal for the children of our state. We all want them to receive a high-quality education, and you cannot achieve high quality if you don’t measure it, and you don’t hold schools accountable. So the question is not should school districts be held accountable or should there be an accountability system. The real question is how do you define and how do you measure a high-quality education? As an example of our current reality in elementary mathematics, high quality is determined by an average of 32 questions on a predominantly multiple-choice test. 

32 questions are measuring the quality of learning and experiences that happen over 173 days of schooling. 32 questions measure the value of a teacher. 32 questions are determining the quality and effectiveness of a school. Yet those 32 questions do not measure the joy. My fourth graders at Lee H. Means Elementary Fine Arts Academy feel when they’re on the stage putting on their performance of Little Mermaid and discovering their passion for the arts. Those 32 questions do not measure the success my first through third-grade students experienced at Dishman Elementary School when they won first place at nationals in chess. Those 32 questions did not measure the feeling of accomplishment that my fifth graders at Sam Houston Elementary, IB World School feel when they earn their first high school credit through our dual language program. And it doesn’t capture the engagement of our families at Rodriguez Elementary STEM Academy every time they come together with their children at STEM nights and share the love of learning as a family unit. 

Ultimately, our schools do more than administer the STAAR test. Our communities, our state, and this country deserve to know our schools and our students are more than 32 questions on one test on one day. We need an accountability system that more accurately reflects the richness and complexity of the work happening on our campuses. 

To do what is best for students, we must identify what matters most inside our schools and ensure that they are reflected in our accountability system. To do what is best for teachers, we must allow sufficient time and flexibility in our classrooms for them to use their expertise and get back to loving what it means to be a teacher. 

When we use the standard of doing what’s best for students and teachers, we will get that much closer to doing what is best for the future of Texas. Because make no mistake, the future of Texas is in our public schools. The future of Texas is in our children.”

Tags: Assessment & Accountability Measure What Matters

related content


subscribe & make
a difference

Subscribe to our e-newsletter for Texas education news, stories, policy insights, and ways to make a difference. We only use this information to send emails relevant to you and will never share this information with third parties.

Address (Required)(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.