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Quorum Report Daily Buzz

June 7, 2013      3:00 PM


"We can argue over the number of tests, but the population trends in our state indicate we’re going to have to step up and do more for our kids, rather than step back and expect less of them."

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, in the last 48 hours, published a guest column which supported dramatic reductions in graduation tests without reducing what we want students to demonstrate they learned. We have been called every name under the sun, from a hero for standing up for the voiceless to a cross between the Grinch who stole Christmas and your neighbor who likes kicking puppy dogs.

We are visibly standing up for the intent behind a series of maligned graduation tests. What have these tests done? Pointed out we needed to do a better job of preparing our students for college and the high performance workplace? Served as the basis to equalize funding for school districts across the state? Forced school districts to deal with students being passed on from grade to grade without learning enough of the content they need for success in a high-performance training program, the military, community college or university?

Sure, the accountability system has flaws we need to fix, but please try not to shoot the messenger. It needs to be fixed, not crippled. Part of the attraction of Central Texas for companies like Google, Apple, National Instruments, IBM, General Motors, Applied Materials and Samsung is the fact we can claim an education system that is ambitious, which cuts the achievement gap between white and non-white students, with a flagship university that attracts almost as many National Merit Scholars as Harvard University.

Drew Scheberle is Vice-President for Education at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. The rest of his column can be found in today's R&D Department.

By Drew Scheberle