The House Public Education Committee met Thursday, May 24, regarding two more of its interim charges: examining research-based options for evaluating student achievement beyond standardized test scores, and examining programs in public schools that have proven results meeting the needs of and improving student achievement for students with disabilities.

Education Commissioner Mike Morath explained how the STAAR test is developed and its relationship to the TEKS. He told lawmakers one common complaint about the TEKS is that they are “broad and shallow,” meaning there are too many TEKS to teach and teachers are unable to delve deeper to facilitate critical learning. 

During public testimony on standarized tests, several witnesses discussed the need to reduce the number of TEKS and to better coordinate testing to ensure teachers have adequate time to cover all of the material that will be on a test prior to its administration. One major topic was the feasibility of reducing state tests to match only those required by federal law — an idea proposed last session by Rep. Van Deaver and supported by TCTA. Unfortunately, his bill, HB 515, did not pass.

Witnesses also emphasized the overreliance on test scores in the state’s accountability system, and the idea of using other measures of student performance, such as portfolios or project-based assessment, was also encouraged.

TEA’s presentation on the second charge included an overview of its corrective action plan for special education, developed in response to recent findings by the U.S. Department of Education that outline areas of deficiency (click here to read more). The committee also heard from multiple special education advocates who testified for increased training for staff and increased funding for special education students, particularly students with dyslexia who may have previously been serviced by 504 programs as opposed to special education programs.