From Politics to Policy: A Case Study in Educational Reform

From Politics to Policy: A Case Study in Educational Reform

From Politics to Policy: A Case Study in Educational Reform

From Politics to Policy: A Case Study in Educational Reform


This collection of essays is a case study of a major educational reform enacted in Texas in 1987: an effort to test all entering college students to gauge their basic skills. It chronicles how legislators, staff and educators designed the test, program, and necessary policies to support the reform. This book presents a model for other states to emulate, and is valuable to students and teachers of education, policy analysis and psychometric testing, as well as to agencies and legislators involved in state-level educational reform.


Larry Temple has long been an advocate for education. Working with the commissioner of higher education, he was the catalyst for getting the Texas Academic Skills Program underway. He commissioned the original study and, later, when the recommendations from that study had been turned into proposed legislation, Mr. Temple drew on his experience in the Johnson administration and at the state level to shepherd the bill through the legislature.

This book is about the formation and implementation of a major educational reform -- one that has the potential to be the most beneficial effort to elevate the quality of undergraduate higher education in the history of the State of Texas. Like most reforms, it began with a conversation between two people.

One day in 1984, I was reading a report on the Florida rising-junior test, the College Level Academic Skills Test. I was impressed with that state's efforts to identify and correct academic deficiencies in its college students.

The testing concept was not new to Texas. We had recently begun seeing results from the Pre-Professional Skills Test used for entrance into the teacher education programs in Texas. The approach of the Texas test was similar to the one in Florida.

In Texas, students wanting to proceed in the teacher education programs were being tested during their sophomore year to determine if they had sufficient basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics -- the very foundation of the curriculum -- to proceed with the upper level teacher education programs. Many of us involved in higher education were dismayed . . .

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