It's Middle School STAAR Test Time. Why Teachers Groups are Fed Up

It's that time of year again, as tens of thousands of Texas middle school kids drop everything to take the annual State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The STAAR is the key exam in the school year, and determined whether students can be passed to the next grade, whether they can graduate, and they also help dictate the Texas Education Agency's performance reviews for individual schools.

So you think you're smarter than a seventh grader?  Here are a couple of questions from the STAAR Test, courtesy of the TEA:

From Mathematics:

Mari bought 6 packets of tomato seeds. Each packet contained 24 seeds. She planted 1 packet of the seeds, and 15 seeds sprouted.

Which statement about the seeds in the remaining packets is best supported by this information?

A  No more than 50 seeds will sprout

.B  Between 50 and 100 seeds will sprout.

C  At least 100 but no more than 120 seeds will sprout.

D  All 120 seeds will sprout

.From Science:

Fertilizers used on farms near the coast can be carried to the ocean when runoff occurs during rain showers. These fertilizers can decrease the populations of fish and shellfish.

Which other populations most likely decrease as a result?

F  Organisms that eat algae

G  Organisms that live on farms

H  Organisms that eat fish and shellfish

J  All of these

But it isn't just the students who dread STAAR testing week.  The teachers aren't crazy about it either, and Clay Robison of the Texas State Teachers Association says de-emphasizing standardized, 'high stakes' testing is on top of teachers' groups requests to the 2019 Legislature.

"There is still a lot of teaching to the test, and teachers say they have to, because the accountability system is based on it," he said.

Teachers say the undue emphasis on the STAAR test means some subjects and many extracurricular activities, which enrich students' lives, like art and music, have to be downplayed to provide enough time to prepare pupils for the test.

And Robison says more and more parents are opting out.

"It seems like every year, more and more parents are fed up with it, because it interferes with what they send their children to school for," he said.

And now that accountability has moved beyond the old 'satisfactory' and 'exemplary' system to give students grades 'A' through 'F', just like students get, the pressure the tests provides is even more extreme.

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