5th Science STAAR Question #1

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Why did 51,130 Texas 5th graders miss STAAR Science Question #1?

5th science staar 2014 #1
TEA adds information not relevant to the question, such as shading Texas on the globe and that Texas didn’t change positions after each rotation of the globe.

Not all students have the ability to shift through the unnecessary information, because not all 5th graders are at the same cognitive developmental stage. TEA adds this extraneous information in the name of increasing “rigor.” It makes questions like this unfair to some 5th grade students. The STAAR One-Size-Fits-All TESTs need to be more fair to all students.

Note: The STAAR TEST for 5th graders has 39 pages of questions. This alone would be enough to stress me. If the first question confused me, any pre-test confidence I had might be lost. Why purposely make a test difficult?

Did you know that elementary kids take this test in a classroom with the walls covered with paper or sheets? This is so they cannot see any charts or information. They are in this room for four hours. They are escorted to the bathroom by an adult –it is a very “cloak and danger ” environment. Teachers are not allowed to even cast their eyes toward the test for fear of being fired. Some children are so stressed over the fear of failing that they vomit.

I’ve yet to be given a reasonable reason why the STAAR tests are given. There have been no changes because of the scores on last year’s tests that I know of. Why do this to elementary children? Because of the stressful procedure –the length of the test–and the fact that the STAAR test is the only thing that matters in Texas education, I vote that the STAAR tests be cancelled. Let’s reevaluate what is important in education.

Would more students have better understood  question #1 if the terms “rotate and rotation” were used only in reference to the globe and Earth?

For example:

1. Kids might better understand the problem if it read—“They spun the globe,”  instead of “They rotated the globe.”

2. Rotation rate is not a term that is part of the TEKS and thus teachers may not have introduced it.

Many Texas School Districts purchase instructional materials from their district Education Service Center (ESC). The 20 ESCs are selling the “gutted” CSCOPE curriculum for the same fee as when this instructional material contained the CSCOPE lessons.

Following is part of an Information Focus Document (IFD) that is still being sold to Texas School Districts. The blue print is said to provide information that teachers need to develop lessons that prepare their students for the STAAR test. Why do teachers need the the TEKS broken into parts? A lot of money is being spend on what are now called TRS IFDs instead of CSCOPE IFDS.

What ever the name, there is nothing in this information about rotation rate. Since schools purchasing TRS IFDs from the ESCs require their teachers to use the information, without books and only the TEKS and what the ESCs called TEKS specificities (blue type), many 5th grade teachers may not discuss rotation rate. Did 51,130 Texas students missed this STAAR question because of the poor quality of the instructional materials being sold to Texas schools by the Texas Education Service Centers?

TEKS 5.8c & 5.3C +  specificities


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  1. I’m currently a student in Texas, and I feel that this kind of look at standards is misguided. I’ve moved around a bit so I’ve experienced other state’s school districts, and I realize firsthand what kind of environment for testing arises in each one. The problem is the lack of focus on “What would be the optimal way for a child to get an effective education?”. This requires us to look at other countries and other programs. If you want a solution, you should search and find one that is proven to work on a scale large enough to replace what is currently in effect. I could go on for quite a while talking about that, but the rest of the argument for a reevaluation of the way we’re looking at the results of this test would be the finger-pointing manner. Even in some of the articles I see that don’t blame a particular agency or group, we’re still left with wondering “now who do we point the finger to?”. In my opinion this is not a better method of journalism- we should be presented with sound facts and a sound opinion, not speculation and hypothetical situations.

    “Note: The STAAR TEST for 5th graders has 39 pages of questions. This alone would be enough to stress me. If the first question confused me, any pre-test confidence I had might be lost. Why purposely make a test difficult?”

    This is just one test. As students progress to multiple subjects, they will be faced with finals that get harder as they move on in their education. I think it’s best to start showing them length before it permanently affects their future. I realize it might be a morale crusher to feel overwhelmed so early, but no performer begins their first performance without some stage fright. This means that we should look earlier, and see what we can do to make the transition easier for children as they progress. The next item on the agenda from the short quote is “Why purposely make a test difficult?”. I dunno. Maybe to test people.
    Thanks for reading this if you’ve continued to the end, I’m just a high schooler now but I’m trying hard to develop open minded opinions, so if you can enlighten me on some facts or statistics I may not know that would help me, I’d be happy to listen.

    • Janice VanCleave says:

      Noah Lee,
      I appreciate your comment.

      The biggest problem with Texas education is a lack of quality supervision. The State Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams was appointed by Governor Perry and Mr. Williams has little background in education. The previous commissioner did not fulfill his duties and allowed the 20 Texas Education Service Centers to govern themselves. The reason for the 20 separate centers was to provide assistance to the different needs of schools in rural areas vs urban areas. Without any control the 20 ESCs grouped together and created a profitable one-size fits all product called CSCOPE. You can read on this website about CSCOPE. The long and the short of it is that 80% of Texas schools purchased CSCOPE instructional materials in lieu of textbooks. CSCOPE has no research material for students. CSCOPE has greatly negatively affected the quality of Texas education.

      So many Texas students are not prepared for a state achievement test because their school district is still using CSCOPE materials without textbooks. The ESCs that promoted that textbooks were an outdated way to educated are now selling textbooks. It is all about the money.

      The STAAR science tests are not quality tests. The 5th grade STAAR science tests in 2013 had about 20% errors. The 5th STAAR math test also had errors. Were other STAAR tests incorrect? I reported 5th grade STAAR test question that was incorrect, did not align withe the TEKS or just was too confusing for students to make good answer choices. TEA was very uncooperative. But, the 5th grade STAAR science test for 2014 has better questions and some of the errors reported were corrected. As far as I know the Reading and Math STAAR tests were not evaluated. Would you consider doing this? I need someone who is familiar with taking assessment tests to review the STAAR 5th grade reading and math tests. You can find all the STAAR 2014 tests for each grade on the following link. The answer keys are also given.

  2. *raise my hand* I didn’t look at the answer either.

    We were taught back in the 90s that it takes 24hours for the earth to completely rotate. Yes we were taught rotation. This is way before common core or CSCOPE. See I learned something in science. That was one of my best subjects.


  1. […] You can find 5th Grade STAAR Science Question #1 Here. Know that 14% of Texas Students gave incorrect answers. When you use percentages it doesn’t sound very bad. Let me restate this: […]