Not everyone wants to skip the STAAR

There are no kids in this group.

Fourteen Texas school superintendents, including those leading Dallas, Fort Worth and Aldine ISDs, joined with several business and education advocacy organizations Thursday to voice support for continuing to give standardized tests to students in the spring.

The announcement came one day after 70 members of the Texas House of Representatives issued a bipartisan call for state leaders to take steps toward canceling the annual exams, illustrating the split over a hot-button education issue that has riled teachers and families.

In a letter to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, the superintendents, business leaders and education advocates said they “believe strongly in understanding where Texas students are in their learning journey.” The group argued the exams would provide vital data to help measure students’ academic achievement and growth amid the pandemic.

“We think it is critical for government leaders and policy makers to fully understand the extent and the disproportionate nature of COVID-19 learning loss that has likely occurred for our communities from limited income homes and our communities of color,” the letter read in part.

While education and business advocates encouraged giving the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, commonly known as STAAR, they did not support continuing to grade schools and districts based on the results. The Texas Education Agency’s academic accountability system results in A-through-F letter grades to campuses and districts largely tied to STAAR scores.

In arguing against accountability ratings, the superintendents and advocates said it would be “almost impossible to assign A-F ratings in a fair and equitable way.”

“We respectfully request that academic accountability for school and district ratings be placed on pause for the 2020-21 school year, and that superintendents and school leaders are given this information as soon as possible,” the group wrote.

See here for the background. I’m all in for skipping the STAAR, in part because I think the kids could use a little less stress in their lives and in part because I think it’s unlikely to be all that useful in such a weird and disruptive year. But if we have to go through with it, then for sure let’s skip the accountability ratings, for the same reasons. This is the reality that we’re in, and we need to accept it.

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2 Responses to Not everyone wants to skip the STAAR

  1. Gary Bennett says:

    No test of this variety will be acceptable until it is “normed” by being passed by successful adults in a range of occupations; the tests we have now are exercises in fantasy, and usually with vindictive objectives.

  2. Souperman says:

    Having taken standardized testing in Texas, too much time is already wasted in teaching the test. All real learning is halted for weeks while “test strategies” are imparted, learning taken down to the lowest common denominator, because too much pressure is put on the schools for these tests to correlate to school funding levels. The test isn’t a measuring stick; it’s instead used to dumb down education and punish the ones that don’t.

    And this was before NCLB (I took 10th grade exit-level TAAS in 1999), after which Dubya’s administration made the testing regimen even more ridiculous.

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