Ask any teacher about the STAAR test and they will most likely groan.  I have never met a teacher that thought that the STAAR was worth their time and was beneficial for students.  Now, that doesn’t mean that those teachers that love the STAAR don’t exist, I’m sure there’s a few but I’m guessing the majority of teachers do not like it.  So why do we give the STAAR test to students in Texas?  Can we get rid of it?  What are the reasons to get rid of the STAAR?  

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? 

Let’s go with the bad.  The quick answer…NO.  Due to the ESSA or Every Student Succeeds Act we are not able to rid ourselves of testing.  The good news…we can change how we test.  The ESSA requires states to have in place a way to measure student achievement.  The most logical way would be a standardize test.  The ESSA does NOT require states to place graduation requirements on passing the test. Yet, Texas currently has one.  Students that fail the STAAR EOC may not graduate with their peers and have the stigma of not passing the EOC.  If students struggle with passing they may just give up and drop out.  This is a sad consequence of the STAAR.  These students have normally finished all class requirements for school and just lack a test or two.  

Another issue with testing, is the amount of testing that happens.  The question constantly comes up, do we test our kids too much?  I would say yes.  The ESSA requires we test Reading, Writing and Math in 3rd thru 8th grade and once in high school, along with a science exam.  Then tell me why are we testing other grades

We here at the Travis Institute created our first initiative that will highlight 4 legislative priorities.  We chose for one of our first legislative priorities to end the STAAR has it currently is written.  And it looks like we have a real opportunity to see true change.

Several bills have been introduced that would change the STAAR and its negative impacts.  

  • SB96 was introduced by Senator Jose Menendez from San Antonio.  This bill would limit the testing of students only in the grades required by federal law.  This would drastically cut down on the amount of testing that students would have to go through.  It would also save money on the state and district levels.  
  • HB525 introduced by Representative Tony Tinderholt from Arlington is another variation of the SB 96. The end results would be the same.  Less testing, more money saved and less stress for administrators, teachers and students alike.  
  • HB 736 introduced by Representative Brooks Landgraf of Andrews is different.  It would eliminate the use of assessment for promotion and graduation.  This would take away the stigma of not going to the next grade.  I do like how the bills states that schools would still be required to tutor those students that did not pass the assessment.  My only hang up is will teachers and students take the test as serious.  

It would be great to get rid of the STAAR and the contract of ETS but these bills would be a great stop gap measure to help the students of Texas. 

We are here to let you know if lawmakers are taking educational issues seriously and will report back soon.  Please like and share this newsletter.  We are building a grassroots movement of teachers.  We need all teachers to be aware of what is going on and join the movement.   

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