MESQUITE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Icela Gudino spends a couple of days a week in her daughter Alexa’s class as a volunteer. Alexa is one of 22 children in the morning pre-kindergarten program for Seabourn Elementary School in Mesquite.
The school is one location for the Mesquite ISD Pre-K program for 3-year-old children. This school year became the first for MISD’s Pre-K for 3 year olds, and Gudino supports it.
“They are learning a lot. My daughter Alexa is learning all the letters, numbers. She’s starting to write sentences,” Gudino said.
Alexa will also have to complete a series of state assessment exams issued to MISD in order to comply with rules from the Texas Education Agency.
The Superintendent of MISD is not pleased with the mandated tests. “For me personally, testing three year olds is an abomination,” Superintendent Dr. David Vroonland said. Vroonland has been a critical voice against the Texas Accountability System for schools and students, opposing high stakes testing that define the success and failure of schools, school districts and students.
Under TEA regulations, Pre K children are administered a series of tests that assess their literacy, math and writing skills. The 10 exams are to be taken over a period of months. MISD gave the tests to four year olds in Pre K, but not the three year olds.
“Until a few weeks ago, we were unclear this applied to our three year old students as well”, Andrea Bailey, Elementary Language Arts and Pre-K coordinator for MISD said. Because of the confusion, the 200 three year olds must complete the state assessments by next week.
Vroonland says the district will complete the task, but he’s using the circumstance to advocate against the state education accountability process’ continued reliance on high stakes testing to grade students and schools.
“I think they (accountability tests) are creating harm in developing of children. When we say a child must be an “A” by May, that’s not educationally appropriate. We don’t want to limit a child by the test. There should be an accounting, but it should be at the local level by the teacher trained to do it, and report daily to parents. Not bureaucrats,, he said.