As many of you know, I taught third grade for my first 3 years of teaching. I loved the age, but ultimately, I felt testing was a major deterrent to teaching and learning and subsequently spent the rest of my teaching career in kindergarten (which I also loved). By the way, I assessed far more often in kindergarten, but it was individual assessments that I used to drive instruction. What a concept. Texas legislators, take note. I knew the child on a personal level and could tell you each area they were strong or needed more time and help. Not so in a testing grade. I spent so much time on test preparation and curriculum that I really only knew whether students were able to answer standardized questions. I was also putting into close to 80 hours a week at the time. Talk about burnout.
Today my Facebook feed is full of parents and teachers sharing trials that this test presents. If the level of stress put on all involved seems over-the-top, it should. The passing rate it so low that the test has to be curved dramatically to even give a statistical bell curve. My teacher friends have even claimed that the number of questions has doubled this year with the same time limits. What the actual heck?!
The test itself is a racket and makes so much moola for the testing industries, cue Pearson and ETS (Educational Testing Service). Our current legislators are proposing an A-F grading system based primarily off of STAAR scores. This is infuriating. I have been following public education very closely since the proposed 10 billion budget cuts that were scheduled for 2010. After much public outrage, that number was moved to 5.4 billion. Still absofrickinlutley ridiculous.
People have been upset with testing and opting out is at an all-time high. Then why the increased reliance on testing? Cue Devos this time. She is definitely only a small piece of the privatization puzzle, but its scale is massive. If public schools look terrible, then parents will seek out better “choices” for their angels.
The problem is that a $5,000 voucher for a charter may seem lovely, but not if the school cost double, triple or even quadruple that amount. Oh yeah, and those schools receiving tax dollars can make their own “choice” to accept students without disabilities and students more on track for college. You know, the kids that will succeed anyway because they have that word we hate to talk about: privilege. So if you are in those schools deemed failing, they can close your homeschool. You may or may not be able to go to a charter. Seems like further segregation as far as I am concerned. These babies haven’t even been given a shot at a future. Do some children deserve less based on their parents’ choices? I heart all the kids.
Granted, I abhor this test. It measures little more than the level of poverty of a school. With all that being said, I will be praying for all the students, teachers, parents and administrators as testing continues this week. You are all awesome and have got this. Treat those babies to some fun stuff. They deserve it.
And for a little fun…I am posting a link to some 8th grade released STAAR questions. Enjoy!
This is something I wrote years ago inspired by working at a Title 1 School.