Was Dallas ISD Better Off When Hinojosa Was Superintendent?

The test scores can't answer that question.

Over on Learning Curve, Eric bristles at the suggestion made by Morning News editorial writers that because Dallas ISD was making gains in its TAKS standardized test results under previous superintendent Michael Hinojosa, current superintendent Mike Miles should be faulted for not continuing the trend in the recently released STAAR scores.

The problem is that what occurred under Hinojosa was something of a mirage:

Because TAKS, the state realized, was measuring not what kids knew nor whether they could think, but how well they had been trained to take the TAKS test. In edu speak, TAKS wasn’t “rigorous.” That’s why the state switched to STAAR, a more-rigorous test in many ways. (Too rigorous, many critics contend.)

The funny thing is, the state got exactly what it wanted – a tougher test that would better give educators a sense of where kids really stood in relation to the rest of the nation and the world. But that has caused everybody to freak out. Because it turns out that our state isn’t making any noticeable educational progress. It hasn’t for years (see the NAEP or SAT data, which goes back far longer than TAKS). But our state has, up until about three years ago with the advent of STAAR, hidden that fact with easy tests that have shown consistent gains (statewide, and in DISD). This is partly because of the Faustian bargain everyone made with TAKS (and its predecessors): educators, media, parents, all the stakeholders in the game said, “Look, we really just want to report year-over-year improvement; it makes everyone feel better.” In fact, a TEA official was complaining just last week about this, wondering just WHY these damn STAAR test results are flat.

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