online taks story

Here’s my story from today’s front page. Foot fetishists, note that this story sets my new personal record for toe mentions:

If you own stock in a company that makes No. 2 pencils, now might be a good time to sell.

After a few years of tiptoeing, Texas is preparing to take its first big step into online testing. School districts have the option to administer next spring’s TAKS test by computer.

“Students have become more and more accustomed to a computer environment,” said Susan Barnes, associate commissioner for standards and programs at the Texas Education Agency. “That has become the mode of how they interact.”

Some worry that the shift, designed to eventually save money and time, could have substantial implications for the tests’ fairness. Not every school has access to the same quality or quantity of computers.

It could also be a solution to Texas’ cheating problems – or make them worse, depending on who’s talking.

I also never linked to my column from Monday:

Why do some parents make such stupid decisions?

That was the question that kept popping into my mind last week as I walked around the KIPP TRUTH Academy in South Dallas. (For the moment, please forgive their over-commitment to capital letters.)

Here was a middle school, in a poor part of town, that put academics first. A free charter school with a demonstrated record of taking struggling neighborhood kids and putting them on a path to college. A school whose graduates will get scholarships to Dallas’ most elite private high schools and who will eventually be successful in life.

And it opened school this month with 20 empty seats in its fifth-grade class.