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Gold Star United: The Changing Performance Standards Of Texas Education

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Standardized test reduction bill clears a hurdle, teacher evaluations in a post-test-centric Texas, the NRA convention in Houston and more.

Yesterday, the House voted to reduce the amount of required standardized tests for Texas public school children, with kids who are already doing well in grades 3 and 5 getting the most breaks. The measure is pending an approval from the U.S. Department of Education because it would override the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates testing in math and reading for grades 3 through 8.

If passed, the new system would affect students in grades 3 through 7, whether through stricken tests or evaluations to exempt them for the next round. Dallas News has the specs. Texas Monthly editor Nake Blakeslee gave Think host Krys Boyd a thick history of the movement to make testing central in Texas and the backlash that came afterward on the show this week.

  • TEACHER TEST: How will teacher evaluations change if Texas lets up on standardized testing? There had been a push to tie measure of teacher performance to the way students fare on exams like STAAR. As it stands, there aren't many fans of the way Texas evaluates teachers -- not even the teachers who get the coveted "exceeding expectations” rating.  Like Stacey Hodge of Dallas ISD, who told the Texas Tribune's Morgan Smith she could've used a constructive comment or two in that blank "areas to address" column.

  • CULTURE CHECK: If you're suddenly compelled to fill in multiple choice bubbles, check out the D Magazine Best of Big D Poll. Think, Anything You Ever Wanted To Know, Art&Seek's Jerome Weeks and the State of the Arts conversation series all get nods. You can vote every day.

  • DRAWING ARMS: Downtown Houston plays host to the annual NRA convention this weekend, where 70,000 people are expected to rally and prepare for gun control legislation in the wake of Newtown shooting. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, and Texas Governor Rick Perry are slated to speak; Glenn Beck and Ted Nugent will hold court as well, of course. KUHF is live-blogging the weekend.

  • LIVE MUSIC PAYS: Venue owners and musicians have mixed feelings about a proposed bill that would slice the tax on mixed drinks by half for businesses in Texas that host live music at least four nights a week, 45 weeks a year. One side: The cut would encourage more bars and venues to book more acts and draw more patrons. Another: Businesses would suffer without that extra revenue in an already hard time for the music industry. [Texas Tribune]



Lyndsay Knecht is assistant producer for Think.