An Opinion About the STAAR – and Standardized Tests

A Discussion Among Educators

This past weekend, the Austin team had a team hangout at the classic teacher favorite:

DAVE AND BUSTERS! One tutor (who shall not be named) beat the admin team multiple times at checkers – and we had a great time discussing important matters about Texas education.

The STAAR test is right around the corner, and that means we tutors are having to teach students test-taking skills. That means that we’re halting necessary teaching time and going back to review basics to ensure that the student passes the STAAR.

This causes a breakdown of the headway made in any subject – because instead of teaching at the threshold of a student’s’ knowledge, teachers and tutors alike are pausing actual teaching in favor of improving  the students’ ability to answer multiple-choice questions. Teachers, parents, and educators across all areas of subjects feel a unique level of stress during this time of year. It’s frustrating.

Try teaching a 3rd-grade student how to answer 30+ math questions in a row. It can be equally rewarding and exhausting for both the student and the tutor. Oftentimes, the younger students suffer from test anxiety and do not know how to regulate the emotion. This leads to dwindling test scores and confused parents. How could a child who has all As in school score in such a low quartile? We see it all the time. 

At a round-table discussion about the effects of standardized testing, the topic of bonuses for student’s performance on these infamous tests popped up. It may not be widely known, but many states have merit-pay in the works – this means that teachers would receive bonuses if their students have a high passing rate on standardized tests, and the teachers would be graded on overall performance from student’s results. This could negatively impact scores because, instead of teaching content and improving overall grades in the classroom, a teacher would be more concerned with improving test scores. 

The STAAR causes unnecessary stress in students (especially younger students) because many believe that they will not be able to go to the next grade unless they pass the exam. This could even lead to situations with a high likelihood of bullying. 

Overall, the STAAR may be a useful method of gauging students from a large collection of data, however it is not a method by which merit (or intelligence) should be based on. 

What are YOUR thoughts on the STAAR test? We’d love to hear it!

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