Rep. Jared Patterson Files Legislation to Pioneer New Approach on Authentic Student Assessment

February 27, 2019

On Wednesday, February 27, Rep. Jared Patterson (Frisco) filed House Bill 2572, proposing a statewide pilot program to assess students in social studies using a portfolio method, in contrast to the current STAAR regime. The legislation represents a step forward towards rethinking how Texas conducts standardized testing, and will promote more authentic, classroom-based assessment of student performance.

Currently, though no federal mandate exists, Texas administers STAAR examinations to social studies students in grades 8 and 11. This presents an opportunity for the state to pioneer alternative approaches, like portfolios, with promising track records of success.

Under HB 2572, school districts would have the opportunity to apply to participate in a pilot program administered by the Texas Education Agency to try portfolio exams in place of the current social studies STAAR tests. Students would present work samples, which could include written, digital, or orally presented products, under a grading rubric designed by Texas classroom teachers aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). At their best, portfolio assessments provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their mastery of knowledge over time, instead of the single-day snapshot of the standardized test. Portfolios better align with the work teachers dedicate to instruction in their classrooms, and empower students to take a measure of ownership over how they demonstrate their academic abilities.

Upon filing his bill, Rep. Patterson noted that “Texans are tired of high-stakes testing and the distortionary effects these exams have had upon our schools. HB 2572 attempts to chart a different course. The social studies portfolio pilot program will give us a chance to meaningfully evaluate a different and potentially much better method to assess performance – more innovative and more authentic than the current system.”

Aubrey ISD’s Dr. David Belding remarked “I am very excited about the potential of a portfolio assessment system for our students to measure educational attainment. A standardized multiple choice test given on one day does not fully determine the achievement of a student. A portfolio assessment will provide a deeper level of measurement and rigor. When students have the opportunity to create products to display their knowledge of a subject area, their experience is much more authentic. This type of system becomes assessment for learning, which is powerful. Texas teachers will be empowered to provide engaging learning experiences for students that will culminate with the creation of a product that has real meaning. Thank you Rep. Patterson for filing this bill. I hope the Legislature will support this piece of legislation. Our students will have the ability to show mastery of the content in a manner that is relevant and helps them display skills needed to fully prepare them for the future.”

HB 2572 draws upon the legislative recommendations and research of next-generation assessment partners, including the High Performance School Consortium and the Texas Public Accountability Consortium. Some Texas school districts already utilize portfolios to provide a more comprehensive picture of student success, and HB 2572 makes it possible to expand on their work.

One of those districts, Sunnyvale ISD, incorporates portfolios specifically for social studies coursework. Dr. Christi Morgan, assistant superintendent at Sunnyvale ISD, commented that “HB 2572 provides districts with the opportunity to strengthen the connection between classroom instruction and the assessment of student learning. The use of portfolios as an assessment tool also supports a positive classroom culture due to the authentic, interactive feedback between teachers and students throughout the learning process.”