Do you remember when children had fun at school?
Schools in Texas are all about passing the STAAR. Even children in kindergarten are prepared and tested to make sure they are being ready for the STAAR.
Texas teachers are monitored to make sure they only teach the TEKS for their grade and subject. This is because the focus of Texas education is the STAAR. The basic rule is, “Only teach what might be on the STAAR test.” Yes, Texas education has evolved from a wide angle view to narrowing down to what would be described as tunnel vision.
Teaching to a test defeats the purpose of the assessment. The problem is that the STAAR test scores are used to determine whether students are promoted or retained. Soon teacher evaluations will be based on student STAAR scores even though teachers have little choice in what they teach, how they teach and when they teach it.
If the state wants to make effective changes, stop the Robin Hood program and allow people to select where their school taxes will be used. Given a choice, I would give my school taxes to schools providing the best educational opportunities for children. School districts that have no academic performance receive the greatest amount of funding. If these school districts improve too much they lose this funding.
More money is not the answer to improving Texas education. While academic teachers will never have facilities and equipment comparable to those provided for high school football coaches, the billions of dollars that have been wasted on the state STAAR/EOC tests would actually provide the technology so touted as being necessary for our 21st Century Education Programs. Technology in most school districts is a farce. Many campuses have a few computers in one room, call it a computer lab and the school district labels itself as having 21st Century Technology Education.
In Texas student achievement in class is of no value if they fail the STAAR math and/or Reading tests. Honor Roll Students have failed the STAAR and been threatened with being retained.
Homeschooled children do not have to take the STAAR tests. If children in public school are passing, parents can take them out of school before the STAAR tests are given and homeschool them. Since for all practical purposes once the STAAR testing starts, the focus of administrators is on the testing and retesting of students. Parents could homeschool their children and better prepare them for the next school year. Then in the fall the children could be enroll in the next grade. But, if the same children take and fail the STAAR, they will be retested twice and then retained if they do not pass. The scores on the STAAR tests TRUMP all class grades.
Starting in 2013-2014, the promotion of students in grades 3 through 8 depended on their passing the STAAR math and reading tests. Only grades 5 and 8 were given three changes to pass these tests. Grades, 3, 4, 6, and 7 had one retesting. It doesn’t matter how well students perform in their classes during the school year, fail the STAAR and you can be retained.
Some school districts have sent home notes with children explaining to parents that failure of the STAAR math and/or reading test could result in the child being retained in the same grade. This note requires both the parent’s and child’s signature. No child should be put under such pressure over one test. No test should have this value.
In preparation for STAAR, classroom walls are covered with sheets or blank paper. Makes me think of a padded cell with no visual stimulation. The school goes into lock down. No visitors allowed. Teachers must sign papers stating they will not view the tests nor assist students. But this is not good enough, the state sends in STAAR Police who monitor the the testing. The STAAR Police are watching administrators and teachers to make sure they do not glance at the test questions are give any signals to the students. One would think that the STAAR tests contain top secret government information.
The tests for elementary children are four hours longs. The children are so frightened about failing that some vomit. Young children are not able to concentrate for 4 hours. After a while, fear of failure is replaced with exhaustion. Few young children or even adults can do their best on such a long test.
In the not so distant past, teaching to a test was not acceptable. Now all Texas schools do nothing else. The Texas Education Service Centers are now training “instruction coaches” to monitor teachers. Coaches control what, when, and how teachers present instruction materials. No frills! No enrichment! Just basic information from the TEKS. Know that the coaches are not trained in subject content, instead they are trained in a specific teaching method and all teachers are to click their heels and goosestep in time to the coaches tune. This teaching structure is so unnatural and so robotic that teachers are required to give praise to students. Some schools mandate that teachers shake the hands of every student as they enter the class. People who know little to nothing about education have written these teaching methods that would be a fitting computer program for androids.
Learning coaches monitor teachers to make sure they are all on the same page on the same day. This prevents teachers from diversifying instructions to meet student needs. It is all about focusing on passing the STAAR.
Personally, I would like every parent to opt their children out of the STAAR/EOC tests. My reason is that no test can assess student ability. Tests are suppose to be helpful, but the STAAR/EOC tests cause more harm than good. The scores on these tests are only used for data collection. The scores on the STAAR/EOC are not being used to improve the education of our children.
The quality of the STAAR/EOC tests makes them an invalid assessment indicator.
More and more parents are opting their children out of STAAR/EOC tests.
Are there consequences for opting out of the STAAR? Each school district makes their own rules about this. Find out what these rules are and decide for yourself which is the greater harm for your child.
After considering the consequences, if you plan to opt your children out of STAAR/EOC tests do it now.
Opt out forms can be found on TXedrights.net
You can expect the school to deny your petition and TxEDRights has a denial reply form. This site has information that will help you if you choose to opt your children out of the STAAR/EOC. Contact information is available.