Over the next few years, Texas is phasing in STAAR, a new standardized testing regime. This spring, students in grades 3-9 took STAAR exams. (Students in grade 10 and up are took the old TAKS tests.) The STAAR tests are considered more rigorous than TAKS, and the number of questions that a student must answer correctly to get a passing score will go up again in 2014 and 2016.
The Texas Education Agency recently started releasing test results to school districts. “Initial STAAR results released”, Texas Education Agency news release, June 8, 2012. State and district officials have various reactions.
State Board of Education member Michael Soto posted on Facebook on June 8:
It should come as no surprise that the results look bad–especially for English I. From the release: “If there had been no phase-in of standards, only 46 percent of students would have passed reading, and 34 percent would have passed writing.” This is entirely predictable when the state raises standards and slashes school budgets.
Taking a different point of view, Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond complains:
“I think it’s safe to say we were all hoping for higher scores, but at least we know now how far we have to go to ensure we have college or career-ready graduates,” Hammond said. “It is a long road, but if we hold our schools and superintendents accountable for improving these results, I believe they will improve.”
“Early STAAR Results Are as Expected, TEA Says”, Minjae Park, The Texas Tribune, June 8, 2012.
Meanwhile, local school districts are scrambling to notify the 9th graders who failed and need to re-test or take summer school. “School officials juggling STAAR results”, Maria Luisa Cesar, San Antonio Express-News, June 8, 2012.
Resistance to standardized testing is widespread: “More than 500 school boards in Texas have passed resolutions demanding a reduced focus on high-stakes standardized tests.” “Parents protest surge in standardized testing”, Stephanie Simon, Reuters, June 12, 2012.