NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 4, 2007

Texas high school graduates are ill prepared for college or the workforce.  And while Texas employers require a higher level of skills due to advanced technology and increased competition, our educational system is embracing mediocrity rather than raising the bar, says Bill Hammond, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business.


  • The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reports that the dropout rate for high school students is 3.7 percent, but anyone with an interest in education knows this is a dangerously misleading number.
  • An even more troubling statistic comes from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which maintains that only 29 percent of fourth-graders in Texas are proficient in reading, while Texas assessments put the number at 79 percent -- a 50 percent disparity.

This only begins to scratch the surface of the problem, says Hammond:

  • Texas claims that approximately 97 percent of its schools are considered "academically acceptable" or better.
  • By categorizing a school as "academically acceptable," the state is saying that it is acceptable for 60 percent of any one ethnic group to fail the science section of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test and 55 percent of any one group to fail the math portion of the test.

Further reducing the credibility of the TAKS test are reports of rampant cheating.  Obviously, this is not a problem we can solve overnight, but the first step in creating a public education system that meets the needs of everyone involved is an honest diagnosis of where we stand.  Perhaps TEA should admit that at least 10 percent of schools are not meeting the needs of Texas students, and 10 to 30 percent, or even 40 percent, of schools need improvement.

Source: Bill Hammond, "Bill Hammond: State's accountability system embraces classroom mediocrity," Dallas Morning News, October 2, 2007.


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