Earlier this month, Commissioner of Education Robert Scott appeared at the TCTA annual convention, where he engaged in a question-and-answer session with elected TCTA leaders from throughout the state.  Among the issues raised at this session were problems encountered with TAKS administration, making the already stressful tests even more unpleasant for teachers and students.

The Commissioner indicated his interest in the issues raised and promised to review the testing procedures and clarify them as needed.  TCTA opened the opportunity for comments to our members via an e-update, and delivered to the Commissioner nearly 250 comments from members across Texas. 

In response, the Assessment Division of the Texas Education Agency issued a "To the Administrator Addressed" letter to school district leaders, addressing two of the specific concerns raised.

  1. Teachers in some school districts had informed the commissioner that students were not being allowed to take bathroom breaks during testing, and the letter reminds districts that breaks are allowed under the state policy: "At your discretion, students may be allowed to take restroom breaks one at a time or an entire class."
  2. Teachers were also concerned that students finishing the test were, in some cases, not allowed to read or leave the room. The letter reviews the state guideline that provides: "After their test materials have been collected, students may be allowed to quietly read books or to leave the testing room. Students may NOT read books between the written composition and revising and editing sections of the writing/ELA tests." The letter also notes that TEA has no stipulations addressing classroom activities once all students have completed their tests and the materials have been collected and stored.

TCTA thanks Commissioner Scott for listening to our concerns. TCTA will continue to work to address additional issues, such as ensuring that districts follow the state law requiring duty-free lunch, and clarifying the intent and implementation of the policies on active monitoring of students taking the test. We’ll also continue our efforts on the broader policy issues related to the accountability system, such as reducing the emphasis on high-stakes testing.