Austin — Last week, Rep. Jason Isaac (Dripping Springs) proposed fundamental reform to Texas’ standardized testing system: allowing school districts to select any nationally normed standardized test that meets Texas curriculum standards instead of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).
“I’ve been so pleased with the overwhelmingly positive feedback I’ve heard not only from the district I serve, but also from people all across the State of Texas,” Rep. Isaac said Wednesday. “It’s become increasingly clear that top-down, one-size-fits-none testing doesn’t work for our schools or for our students.
“It’s time to put the ‘independent’ back in ‘independent school district’ and allow free-market principles to decrease costs and increase quality in standardized tests. It’s the least we can do to support our hard-working students and their families in light of the appalling errors they were forced to put up with during the last administration of STAAR.”
Potential bill language is still being finalized, but Rep. Isaac stated that his legislation will clearly state that eligible tests must be nationally normed and comply with Texas’ curriculum standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
The bill would also call on the Texas Education Agency to request a waiver from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the successor of No Child Left Behind. ESSA is the source of many of the inflexible testing regulations school districts are held to. Specifically, ESSA requires identical statewide exams for elementary and middle schools — but not high schools.
“The Texas state of mind has always favored local control,” Rep. Isaac continued. “No Child Left Behind and ESSA have failed our students. It’s time for the Lone Star State to push back at the federal government’s heavy-handed regulations and allow our locally elected school board members the autonomy to select the test provider that best meets their schools’ and students’ needs.”
Throughout his time in the Texas Capitol, Rep. Isaac has authored and supported a number of bills aimed at reducing federal and state mandates that burden our schools, including House Bill 462, which prohibited the State of Texas from implementing Common Core, and House Bill 743, which aimed to limit the amount of time students spend on standardized tests.
Several legislators have indicated their interest in supporting Rep. Isaac’s new proposal, which Rep. Isaac plans to file when the 85th Legislative Session convenes in January.
Representing Blanco and Hays counties, Rep. Isaac has served House District 45 in the Texas Legislature since 2011. He is a member of the Economic and Small Business Development, Environmental Regulation, and Local and Consent Calendars committees and is chair of the Subcommittee on Small Business. He lives in Drippings Springs with his wife, Carrie, and two sons who attend public schools.