Tougher accountability testing in schools despite budget cuts
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am
WEST -- Texas schools are tightening belts to deal with the state's $15 billion dollar shortfall.
While administrators say students will be facing tougher testing, the budget leaves no money to replace outdated textbooks, causing concerns with school districts.
Between cutting programs and cutting teaching jobs, Central Texas school officials say textbooks are the last thing on their minds. Now, tougher testing standards means new textbooks are added to their plate but not to the budget proposals.
"It's crucial that we have the materials in order to prepare for these more rigorous tests and this more rigorous accountability system. So, textbooks and other instructional materials are extremely important to us at this time," West ISD's Dr. Jan Hungate told Fox 44.
Education Commissioner Robert Scott is asking for $520 million in updates to books for the fall. A new textbook costs nearly $100 dollars, meaning $2,000 for ever 20 students. That money isn't included in the budget.
But Dr. Hungate says the bigger issue here isn't just the textbooks or the thousands of layoffs.
"A real concern that school districts have that how are we going to meet higher standards, how are we going to be able to accomplish the goals we have on testing with less people. So I guess in their minds, it's more important to have a new accountability system than it is to have qualified educators in the classroom," says Dr. Hungate.
A dozen exams for high school students will soon be fazed in, but districts say now might not be the best time to do that.