As mistakes go, STAAR is a doozy


State Education Commissioner Mike Morath did the right thing by ruling that fifth and eighth graders who failed STAAR exams this year wouldn’t be held back a grade. He was reacting to problems with how STAAR exams have been handled by the testing vendor. But the commissioner still doesn’t get that the basic problem with STAAR is, well, STAAR.

“Kids in the classroom should never suffer from mistakes made by adults,” Morath announced.

That’s right, but the mistakes he was addressing – lost tests and other administrative snafus — are only symptoms of a much larger mistake – the entire STAAR testing regime and the high stakes it unnecessarily imposes on students and teachers. The entire scheme was concocted by adults, and children in classrooms will continue to suffer.

It’s time for Morath to tell the Legislature to listen to parents and educators and deep-six the entire testing program or, at least, scale it back significantly. But, despite being angered and embarrassed by problems with the testing vendor, Morath still supports the tests and would raise the stress level associated with them.

Remember, he has adopted a new teacher evaluation system tied to test scores, and, in a recent media interview, he claimed STAAR tests weren’t “overly burdensome.”

A study committee created by the Legislature – the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability – has been studying STAAR and doesn’t appear ready to junk it yet either.

All of this makes it that much more important that educators, parents and others who have had it up to here with high-stakes testing accept the State Board of Education’s invitation to say what you think about it. Take the board’s survey at the link below.

Changing state laws – even unpopular ones – can be a long and frustrating process. But if you have a chance to tell elected state officials what you think, take it!


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