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Texas Education Commissioner Williams visits Abilene to talk about standardized testing debate

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 14 2012 09:31:44 PM CST
TX education commissioner
ABILENE, Texas -

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams held a town hall meeting in Abilene Friday to discuss state standardized testing with parents, teachers and school officials.

"I think it's important that we focus on every child, in every classroom, in every school, in every district across this state," said Williams.

Williams also met with refugee students who say because of language barriers they are set up to fail state tests. Refugee students are held to the same state testing standards as everyone else, even if they don't speak English.

The Abilene Independent School District has more than 250 refugee students enrolled. The majority are from Africa and most of them are in middle school and high school.

That’s why State Representative Susan King invited Williams to visit with Abilene refugee students.

"I know that my children, even though I think they're pretty intelligent, could not go to Africa and take their standardized test in their language," King said

King said the issue has been important to her ever since speaking to two refugee girls.

"They said do you not understand? Do the teenagers, do the students in this country not understand how wonderful an opportunity they have? Do they have any idea what it's like to leave a country where they were at risk of being killed, burned or imprisoned? Do you understand the great opportunity and gift we've had to come to this country? When you hear a student articulate something like that you want to help them. You want to do whatever you can," said King.