5 million reasons for less testing and smarter accountability.

December 1, 2012 |

Texas public schools educate 5 million students.

These students need meaningful coursework, not endless exams. Support an accountability system that emphasizes actual learning, not “teaching to the test.”

Reduce High-Stakes Testing

Texas’ efforts to create a standards-based accountability system have resulted over time in a test-based accountability system that overemphasizes testing to the exclusion of other important measures of student achievement.

Texas currently requires 15 end of course (EOC) exams for graduation, far more than any other state that uses EOCs as a graduation requirement (5 exams or fewer is typical). This does not include interim assessments administered throughout the year to prepare students for STAAR exams.

This overemphasis on testing shows up in the classroom. Teachers focus on teaching to the test – administering exercises that match the format and content of the STAAR exam – to the exclusion of other educational goals.

Create A More Meaningful Accountability System

The Texas Education Agency, with input from stakeholders, is currently in the process of developing a new accountability system for Texas public schools. Raise Your Hand Texas hopes to see changes made that will address many of the shortcomings in the current accountability system, including:

  • Eliminate “death by cell.” Currently, districts and campuses must meet 25 separate assessment measures, and could receive an Academically Unacceptable rating if they fail to meet one measure for one subgroup. This policy does not present an accurate and complete picture of student achievement.
  • Align accountability standards and reporting. Districts and campuses are confronted with a confusing array of state and federal accountability standards (often referred to as “trip wires”). These include state and federal accountability ratings under the Public Education Grants program, federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and the state accountability system – all released at different times of year. The result has been undue complexity for administrators and confusion for the public.


Here’s what the Texas legislature can do to keep public schools strong:


  • Give local districts permanent flexibility on the 15% requirement.
  • Reduce the total number of End of Course exams, and the number of exams that students must pass to graduate.
  • Expedite action by the Commissioner to implement rules to allow AP/IB exams and the Dual Credit course completion to satisfy EOC requirement in that subject.


Raise Your Hand Texas is encouraged by the work being done by the Texas Education Agency and stakeholders to make significant changes to the state accountability system.

Raise Your Hand Texas will monitor these developments and any legislation affecting the state accountability system. Proposals to improve the accountability system should:

  • Consider a variety of measures in arriving at an accountability rating, including student progress, while not making rating dependent on a single measure;
  • Consider factors other than performance on state assessments, including AP/IB and dual credit participation, graduation rates, CTE participation and similar measures of student achievement;
  • Provide meaningful performance results the public can readily access and understand; and
  • Simplify and align standards and reporting under the state and federal accountability systems.

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