COMMENTARY | It's a bit ironic I'm writing this on a teacher inservice day, but the fact that I'm a high school economics teacher means that I could consider this genuine research. If you haven't heard, the state of Texas is being sued by more than two-thirds of its school districts over school financing, reports the Texas Tribune, and a verdict is expected early this year. Because the verdict will undoubtedly be appealed, the case is expected to end up before the state Supreme Court. The case is complex and involves lawmakers wanting to cut education spending, as well as charter school advocates wanting state public education to be declared an illegal monopoly.
In short, residents are upset. Big bucks are spent, explains fastexas.org, but too many Texas youth are not passing Texas Education Agency standardized tests, with only half of high school graduates being deemed "college ready," reports the Houston Chronicle. Now the TEA is considering lowering performance expectations on the test. Additionally, Texas called a University of Missouri economist, Michael Podgursky, to testify that more spending on education did not necessarily translate into better test scores, hoping to dampen school districts' appeals for more cash.
How can Texas fix this dilemma?
School districts want more money, much of it to work on upping students' standardized test scores. This morning, I sat through multiple meetings on the subjects, with teachers brainstorming how to get kids motivated to pass. And we have a few good ideas the state might want to pass on to other school districts:
First, we need to motivate the students to perform of their own initiative. We can drown them in fancy technology and brand-new books and crisp notes packets, but we cannot force them to perform. A suggestion I like is to require non-passing students, whether they are failing standardized tests or their normal classes, to attend an extra class period each day. This abbreviated class period would take up most of their lunch hour, depriving them of the ability to socialize with friends. Therefore, if they want to socialize over lunch they better hit the books themselves.
Motivating students to perform in the classroom so they can hang with their buddies could save the state millions of dollars on high tech tutorials and hot-off-the-press books and papers today's i-Gadget obsessed kids couldn't care less about.
- Texas Education Agency
- school districts