Texas Standards and the “Quality Counts” report

Being ignorant is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is nothing to be particularly proud of either. A large and disruptive segment of the Texas State Board of Education is not only ignorant — a state that we all share at various times and on various subjects — it is proudly and aggressively ignorant, which goes beyond simple ignorance and ventures into the territory of malignant stupidity.

So begins a hard-hitting editorial in the Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle, one of several such editorials rounded up by the TFN Insider.

In one reader comment, “billa” writes:

We can all agree that the conservative bloc of the SBOE has controlled the curricula in Texas for some time.

On January 14, 2010, Education Week, the industry’s most influential publication, and hardly a right-wing rag, issued its annual “Quality Counts” report in which Texas was given a solid “A” for curriculum development, making the Texas SBOE the sixth highest ranking for curriculum developers in the nation.

For the Board conservatives, this recognition has not come easily.

I have been following the Board’s revision of standards in English, Language Arts, and Reading (ELAR), Science, and now Social Studies over the last couple of years. The revision process has been an absolute travesty, and the resulting standards are abominable. Yet Governor Perry, Commissioner Scott, and the right-wing SBOE members have been crowing about this “A” rating as evidence that their revised standards will provide a quality curriculum for school children in Texas — a curriculum superior to what Texas would get if it joined the rest of the states in adopting national common standards.

So what is the basis for this evaluation by Education Week ?  I had to find out, so I looked over the report. The complete criteria for their evaluation of the standards are displayed in the table excerpted below. (Click on the excerpt below to see the complete 3-page table. The excerpt below shows how “Standards” were scored for the highest- and lowest-rated states on “Standards, Assessments, and Accountability”.)

So Texas gets a 100% score on its Standards, but with absolutely no regard for whether those standards are substantively any good at all! The only things they looked for is whether the standards in each of the four core-subject areas were “course- or grade-specific,” and whether supplementary resources or guides are also provided in the core subjects and for particular student populations.

That’s right: A state can get a 100% “A” grade on this measure by meeting those formal criteria, no matter how atrociously dreadful their state standards are in substance.

And the proof that a state can do this is demonstrated by the fact that Texas has, in fact, been doing it — and is doing it right now with their revision of the social studies standards.

If you look at the highest- and lowest-rated states as featured in this table, it’s striking that the top-rated states include some of the worst-performing education systems, while the bottom-rated include states that are perennially the top performers on national and international comparisons.

How could that be? Could it be that people in the best-performing education systems know something about what they’re doing?

The “Quality Counts” criteria reward lockstep, grade-by-grade top-down control of the curriculum, which is not how states like Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have achieved their success.

“billa” concludes his comment with this:

The Denton Record Chronicle should be doing what Education Week, as well as mainstream Texas citizens and parents is doing, thanking the SBOE conservatives for their contribution to the education of our kids.

The folks at Education Week may have some re-thinking to do. They at least need to issue some kind of disclaimer to interrupt the use of their report to support the kind of travesty that is now unfolding in Texas.

(Click here for other posts on this blog concerning education and state standards in Texas.)


One Comment

  1. Posted March 10, 2010 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    A for effort. F on content.

    Is there anything Rick Perry won’t tell tall tales about?

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