Science & Tech

High stakes tests in Texas threaten disadvantaged students

1 min read

Deepen educational inequity between whites and minorities

Texas is frequently cited as a national leader in efforts to raise academic performance and hold schools accountable for student performance. At the center of these efforts is the statewide standardized test, the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), administered to public school children in grades 3 to 10. Students must achieve a minimum score in order to proceed to the next grade and to graduate from high school. However, according to two studies of education reform in Texas, such tests have deepened the educational inequity between whites and minorities and widened the educational gap between rich and poor students. “Texas is frequently heralded as a successful model for the nation of how tests can improve the academic performance of students, particularly poor and minority students,” says Gary Orfield, co-director of The Civil Rights Project at Harvard. “These studies, however, raise serious questions about the wisdom of putting so much at stake on one measure.”