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Calls to cancel the STAAR exam grow louder

Posted at 10:58 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 23:58:22-05

Calls to cancel the STARR exam for this school year continue to grow louder.

A bipartisan group of nearly 70 members of the Texas House of Representatives are urging the TEA to rethink its plans to move forward with the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness exam required for all students in Texas.

It’s no secret that there have been some issue along the way when it comes to education and COVID-19. Between students, parents and teachers bouncing back and forth between virtual and in-person learning, all parties involved say it's been a lot to digest, even before adding in a high-stakes standardized test.

“Before COVID, there was not a year that I taught in Texas where I did not see a child become physically ill on the days that the tests were being taken," said Rick Beaulé, president of the Killeen Educators Association.

As an educator for 18 years, half of that spent in Texas public schools, Beaulé feels the STAAR exam isn’t an in accurate way to asses a student's knowledge of a subject. He says it should have been thrown out a long time ago.

“People should understand that even in an ideal situation, the STAAR exam is a deeply flawed measure of student achievement. This is the wrong direction to go even before COVID. Now you add a pandemic on top of that. Why are we doing this? Why are even thinking about this?” said Beaulé.

“I think it’s going to cause these kids to have severe testing anxiety,” said Shekeya McCallister, the parent of a KISD middle school student.

The added stress of COVID-19 has parents like McCallister extremely concerned. She says her daughter has struggled with the switch to virtual learning, causing her otherwise exceptional grades to drop.

“With the transition due to COVID, with them doing online learning, they’re not getting all the information that they needed to help them to even be prepared for the test coming up,” McCallister said.

Although her daughter is back in the classroom and is working to pick her grades back up, McCallister still does not believe this test should be taken, especially with teachers and student still adjusting to the multiple ways of learning today.

“Until we can get them back in school full-time, I think they should not count that against them because it’s kind of a punishment for them. Like how can you allow them to take a test on something that they haven’t mastered, you know?” she said.

“If our goal is to have kids learn to value learning and enjoy learning, do we think we’re accomplishing that right now by having a high-stakes test that already makes them sick? Before we add in a pandemic?" said Beaulé.

McCallister also says she has a lot of questions surrounding how students would be tested, since you can't pack everyone in a room because of social distancing.

25 News did reach out to the TEA for comment have not heard back as of publication.

Normally, fifth and eighth graders must pass the STAAR exam in order to move on to the next grade. However in July, Gov Abbott said fifth and eight graders would still be able to move up to the next grade, with the districts permission, if they failed the STAAR exam.