Texas To Release New Test Results Amid Battle Over High-Stakes Testing

Last spring, students in Houston took a brand new standardized exam, the STAAR. The state plans to release the grades for thousands of students later today. But the whole testing system could get an overhaul from the Texas Legislature this session, as Laura Isensee reports from the KUHF Education Desk.

Four years ago, Texas lawmakers decided to completely change the way students and schools get graded. That included a new, tougher exam. It’s called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR

Students in grades three through eighth will found out how they did for the first time.

“These results will show the students who passed.”

That’s DeEtta Culbertson with the Texas Education Agency.

“And at the same time give schools a chance to know what students are going to need in terms of additional work to help them improve.”

Susan Kellner, a former Spring Branch school board member, has a totally different take on what the results mean.

“I get a piece of paper back on STAAR and I put in a pile of papers that I could care less about.”

Kellner leads a group called Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, or TAMSA. They want the state to stop spending so much money on its own exams and use national ones.

“You know over the last decade and half we feel like we’ve been sold a bad bill of goods. We continually were told this next test is going to be more rigorous, it’s going to tell us what we need to know. And we believed that, through the TABS, the TEAMS, the TAAS, the TAKS and now the STAAR. And we’re fed up. We don’t believe it anymore.”

It’s not the first time parents and advocates have criticized standardized testing. But the criticism has gotten louder.

And now the Texas Legislature is paying attention. In his opening address, House Speaker Joe Straus promised change.

“We will continue to hold our schools accountable. But we will also make sure our accountability and testing system are more appropriate, more flexible, and more reasonable.”

Several lawmakers have already filed bills like Representative Mike Villarreal, a Democrat from San Antonio.

“The odds are very high that we will see testing reform this session. In the House budget, we have zeroed out the budget for testing.”

Among other things, Villarreal’s bill would limit how many days students can take standardized tests in school.

From the KUHF education desk, I’m Laura Isensee.

 

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...