Texas End Of Course Exam Won't Affect Student Grades

The Texas STAAR test which is used to evaluate college-readiness will not automatically count toward a student's final grade this year. Instead local school boards will decide how much weight to give the exam.

The STAAR test replaced the extremely unpopular TAKS test last year. One of the requirements of the new college-readiness exam is that it count as 15 percent of a student's total grade in certain core courses.

But Governor Rick Perry wants to do away with that rule and in response the Texas Education Agency announced it will defer the rule until next year.  

In the meantime, state legislators may pass a bill in the upcoming session to get rid of the 15 percent rule completely, an idea that appears to have bipartisan support.

HISD Board Trustee Harvin Moore says the decision gives local districts more control.

"It'll be a good indication of what children know, but it is not the only indication, so now I guess the local school board will have to decide whether student performance on the STAAR exam will impact course grades, and if so, how will it impact it. And that's a decision for the full board and we'll be working on that in the coming months."

Students will still have to pass the exam to graduate. It's more rigorous than the previous TAKS test and Moore says he's not worried that educators will simply teach to the test.

"The phrase 'teaching to the test' is a problem if it's a test that does not measure what we actually expect children to learn. And I have a pretty high level of confidence that the STAAR exam, in fact, measures, better than any former exam that we've had, what kids really do need to learn in order to get into college."

School districts will have to apply for a waiver to opt out of the 15 percent rule for this school year as they wait for a final decision from state lawmakers.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...