Poll: Should STAAR testing be canceled? For good?

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Teachers and education advocacy groups across Texas are asking the state to reconsider administering the STAAR test next spring.

“When we’re going through something that has never in our lifetime occurred in the disruptions in our students’ academic careers… It’s just no time for a test,” Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina explained.

That’s why State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, (D-Austin), filed a petition against the standardized testing.

“Our governor should join other governors across the country, and requests of Betsy DeVos, that we get a waiver from having to take the STAAR test this academic year,” Rep. Hinojosa explained.

“First and foremost, I’m a mother, and I have a child of two children in AISD, and one in third grade, who will be taking the STAAR test for the first time. We have dealt as a family with the just normal anxiety and stress of prep preparation for the STAAR test,” Rep. Hinojosa added. “But as we all know, our families are under really unprecedented pressures right now because of the pandemic.”

The Texas Education Agency said it values the benefits STAAR can provide, which includes a glimpse of how students are doing. That’s especially important now, in order to gauge where the students are coming out of the pandemic.

The TEA said it’s also not tone-deaf to the perils of the pandemic. That’s why it removed the usual grade promotion component, meaning students will still be able to move on to the next grade regardless of how they score on the 2021 STAAR test.

Rep. Hinojosa, however, said there are better ways to understand how the kids are faring.

“There are other tools, other types of assessments not like a standardized test that teachers use to assess, that teachers have those expertise. It’s not real-time information that teachers use to fill the gaps for their students,” Rep. Hinojosa said.

The Association of Texas Professional Educators also agreed, adding any data gathered from this spring’s testing will be useless.

“The accountability system has serious sanctions attached to it. So we could be basing really important decisions such as whether or not to apply sanctions to a school district or appoint a board of managers based on tests with results that we can’t trust,” ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins explained.

The hybrid online, in-person learning structures at schools across the state have also highlighted the digital divide, which could further impact STAAR testing scores.

“The grades that my third grader receives this academic year are really going to be grades about grading my performance as a parent, because I spend so much of my day in third grade trying to make sure this program works,” Rep. Hinojosa said. “What we’re grading right now is not the children, it’s the performance of the adults who surround them. And we know that that varies from family to family.”

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