David Bradley, a member of the Texas State Board of Education, has just written compellingly about this risk. Here's the link: http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Proposal-cheapens-high-school-diplomas-6168759.php?cmpid=email-mobile
It's important to note that stagnation has already set in from weakening in accountability that began in recent years. Texas was getting increases of 15,000 and above in students attaining a credential in higher education from 2009-1012. In 2013 and 2014, those increases have been reduced by half.
Yet, even more backward motion is planned by some in the legislature. Another bill would eliminate tests in writing and social studies. This will only further reduce teaching in these crucial areas. As Commissioner Williams has said, "We must work together to assure our students are in a position to express themselves beyond 140 characters after they leave high school."
Another bill that is being given serious consideration would eliminate much of the annual testing grades 3-8. This would wreak havoc in several ways. It would jeopardize federal aid our schools receive. It would make it impossible for parents to know from objective measures where their children are academically from year to year. It would make it impossible to make judgments about growth each year and hold schools and others accountable when students fall off the path. And it would make any fair judgment of the effectiveness of programs and personnel virtually impossible.
Texas has benefited greatly from the accountability system it put in place 20 years ago. We will rue the day we unravel it. Yet, that seems to be what our current crew of leaders is doing.
Here's an important essay that was recently published showing the powerful research that proves that accountability and testing policies, such as the ones Texas has put in place in past years, work. http://www.bushcenter.org/blog/2015/03/31/research-says-why-quality-research-matters-education
We have our own data that prove this vividly in Texas. As I've pointed out in separate articles, Texas students of color grew in 4th grade math proficiency, as measured on the NAEP, by an astonishing two grade levels from the year accountability began (1993) to 2009. Growth was over 2 1/2 grade levels for 8th grade math.
Reading gains were 2 grade levels in 4th grade, and 1 grade level in 8th grade.
All the while, white students kept climbing as well.
Yet, all these gains have slowed since 2009 because of weakening state policies. If these new bills pass, the gains will almost certainly stall entirely, if not regress.
Is this being seen? Will it be remembered? Will those who wreak this damage be held accountable? But, even more important than what happens to the adults who cause this harm, what about our children? How can we tolerate this march to mediocrity when our children and our state need us to move forward, not backward.