Stanfardized Tests about to get Harder in Texas

AUSTIN, TX— - AUSTIN, TX— The series of standardized tests Texas students grades 3-8 take every year are about to get harder for kids to pass.

The questions shouldn’t be more difficult than last year’s test but come this spring, students will need more right answers to pass.

Texas is raising the score students need to get to pass the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, exams.

In some grades, a failed STARR exam means the student is held back a year.

The State’s Education Commissioner, Michael Williams, made the announcement at the annual Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards conference in Austin over the weekend.

People in attendance Saturday said most of the crowd laughed at the news and not because they thought it was funny.

“It is laughable because we are setting not only our students up, we’re setting our schools up for failure,” said Noel Candelaria.

The President of the Texas State Teachers Association, Candelaria said the state is raising standards for test scores but teachers and schools still aren’t getting the resources they need.

“We are focusing on the symptoms not the cause,” Candelaria said the state needs to invest, not test.

The Texas Education Agency confirmed the Commissioner’s announcement that the passing standard for STAAR exams will increase. Commissioner Williams is expected to provide additional information about the new standards later in the week.

Texas was supposed to up the passing requirements two years ago but held off because student scores haven’t improved at a fast enough rate. Texas has been in the first phase of moving to the higher standards for the last four years.

According to numbers from TEA, one in four eighth-graders failed the new, more difficult math exam that started last spring. The passing rate dropped 4-percentage points from the previous year.

“We don’t have standardized students so to even think that we are to put every student into this standardized box score is really ludicrous,” Candelaria said TSTA supports student and teacher assessments but he doesn’t think this is the right way to do it.

“Our students are going to feel the pain,” Candelaria said. “I have a third grader in my own home who is already having anxiety about that test happening six-months from now.”

Candelaria said his daughter didn’t even want to start the third grade because she knew that’s when the statewide testing started. “No child at any age should feel that way about going to school—school should be an opportunity and a place for joy and learning,” said Candelaria.

A spokesperson for the TEA said the news should not come as a surprise and also noted that each time the state has moved to a higher standard, educators and students have met the new mark.

Candelaria said, “I can’t imagine what stress children are going through, much less the stress that the educators and the rest of the entire education community is going through.”  

Candelaria said with so much riding on the STAAR exams, he expects many teachers will start to teach the test and students will miss out on value lessons that don’t show up on standardizes tests. 

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