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Central Texas superintendent proposes changes to state testing

Dr. Robin Battershell Dr. Robin Battershell
TEMPLE, TX (KXXV) -

The Temple ISD Superintendent Dr. Robin Battershell sent a letter to the Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath proposing changes to state testing. 

"There's a difference between taking a test to help a kid and rating a child and we've lost the helping a child part of that system,” Dr. Battershell said.

In the letter, she stated the state summative assessment system administered at the end of the year, such as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in grades 3-8 should be replaced to an August diagnostic assessment system for grades 2-8.

"Why not flip that and do the STAAR test at the beginning of the year, especially in reading and mathematics at the first of the school year, take the mystery out of it and let people know where your deficits are and where your strengths are so we can work with that throughout the whole school year,” Dr. Battershell said.

Currently, her district does not use the STAAR test as tool to track students’ progress.

"Whenever we are working with students on improvement and progress, those are all locally developed tests right now, because of the timing of the STAAR, when we receive it,” Dr. Battershell said.

She adds the testing at the beginning of the year could reduce the number of state assessments and reduce the number of local assessments used to determine students’ benchmarks and progress.

“It saves money because if districts are allowed to provide remediation all year long, summer school may not be required and districts would not be spending money on developing local tests to help guide them. At the State level, it would substantially reduce the number of tests,” Battershell states in the letter.

Her proposal also includes taking the results from the diagnostic test results from the district report cards and keep including the end-of-course passage percentages, graduation rates and drop-out rates.

“We should be accountable that our students graduate. We should be accountable that they can hold down a job or they can go to college. That's the ultimate accountability. How we get there, that should be local control,” Dr. Battershell said.

According to Battershell, the changes could also help simplify the school accountability system in Texas.

"It is so complex that people can't understand it. It is so complex that you can't explain that to people anymore. It's because of that it has lost reliability. It has lost credibility with our general public,” Battershell said.

The state summative assessment system Battershell refers to in the letter, includes STAAR, end-of-course assessments taken at the high school level and an accountability system called Texas Academic Performance Reports.

Battershell told News Channel 25 she decided to send the letter after reducing testing was one of the resolutions the TISD school board and the Bell County Superintendents formulated. Last year's superintendent of the year also talked about reduce testing in her district and the difficulty of it during a Region 12 Superintendent's retreat, according to Battershell. In addition, she said a school district experiencing issues obtaining their test results from the test vendor earlier this year also influenced her decision to write the letter.

A Texas Education Agency spokeswoman said the letter, which was received on Wednesday, was under review. A response is expected to be issued in the next few days.  

Click here to read the letter.

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