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A Test By Any Other Name: Greg Abbott Wants Standardized Testing For Pre-Schoolers

by: Katherine Haenschen

Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 09:25 AM CDT

Is Greg Abbott smarter than a 4-year old? Apparently he wants to test them to find out.

Abbott is under fire for yet another aspect of his education plan: now, he wants to require pre-K students to take biannual standardized tests.

Abbott's spokesperson initially claimed that the tests referenced in the education plan were "for informational purposes only" and "not part of Greg Abbott's policy recommendations."

However, Jim Windham, Chairman of the Texas Institute for Education Reform and a known high-stakes standardized testing enthusiast, makes clear on Abbott's "Town Hall" website feature he means standardized testing, whether Abbott likes it or not.

Read more about Abbott's back-tracking on his Pre-K plan and check out a round-up of media criticism over Abbott's policy ideas.

Jim Windham, another "expert" who clearly informs Abbott's education plan, stated on Abbott's "Town Hall" section of his campaign website that "we do need diagnostics to determine the needs of the child and efficacy of the methodologies being used," suggesting that "a number of normed Pre-K assessments" could accomplish this goal.

Call it diagnostics, call it assessment: it's still a high-stakes test for preschoolers.

Now, Abbott's team is back-tracking from the candidate's education plan, suggesting that they didn't mean it when the plan called for biannual testing of pre-kindergarten. The plan states that school districts should "administer assessments at the beginning and end of the year" to provide "data necessary to properly evaluate" pre-K programs.

The Wendy Davis campaign released a round-up of press clippings demonstrating the widespread coverage Abbott's plan to test four-year-olds is receiving:

"The $118 million Abbott plan calls for lawmakers to require school districts with preK programs to administer assessments at the beginning and end of the school year in an effort to measure the quality of such programs. One of those assessments referenced in Abbott's plan is standardized testing." -- Corpus Christi Caller-Times

"One of the candidates' biggest slug-fests over Pre-K has focused on Abbott's call for assessing what these four-year olds have learned and how that would be done.  A paragraph in Abbott's 22- page plan says standardized testing is one way of doing that." -- KERA

"Abbott also proposes that school districts meet a "gold standard" as an incentive for funding. That involves measurement, which is another way of saying testing" -  Corpus Christi Caller-Times

"That would include testing and other measurements to ensure that instruction in those classes is effective." -- Dallas Morning News

"Sabo also cautioned against placing too much emphasis on testing for such young children.' The last thing Texas needs is Baby STAAR.'"-- Austin American Statesman

"Districts being funded by the state would also be required to test each pre-K student for benchmarks." -- Texas Public Radio

"Abbott's plan would grant an additional $1500 per pre-k student in districts that agree to meet new "gold" standards, a determination that would be made through testing and other assessments." -- KUT

Wendy Davis opposes standardized testing for Pre-K students. Greg Abbott can't seem to get his answer straight. Who do you want appointing education administrators in Texas?

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