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February 21, 2017

Texas officials upset over low STAAR scores; won’t admit problems with the test and curriculum.

Pencil eraser2


It’s time to increase rigor because Texas kids are stupid.

That’s the message Texans heard this week from our legislators in Austin. State Education Commissioner Michael Williams came under fire over his decision to keep low passing standards on state achievement tests (STAAR) for the fourth year in a row.

How low are they? Fifth graders need to answer 54 percent of the items on math and reading tests to pass.

Needless to say, the editorial pages are filled with commentary from outraged citizens about how poorly our schools are doing. We need more tests! We need to have rigorous curriculum! Teachers need to do a better job!

Sorry, I gotta call BS when I hear it. This has nothing to do with our kids or our teachers.

It’s the god-awful tests, standards and curriculum!

As a college professor, I know there is something wrong with the test – not my students – if a large number of them do poorly on an exam. The problem usually stems from badly written questions or answers, and it’s my responsibility to fix it. The state of Texas has the same responsibility.

Based on the sample problems my children bring home, even I can see these tests have very obvious flaws. I tried to help my crying 9-year-old with a STAAR reading worksheet, but I had no idea what the questions were asking. My daughter’s high school materials were also difficult to decipher. Many of the teachers I’ve talked to admit they have a hard interpreting this stuff. No wonder the kids are struggling!

In addition to very poorly constructed questions and answers, the STAAR exams and their accompanying standards are developmentally inappropriate. Children’s minds are simply not mature enough to process, let alone master, the content Texas mandates. The ability for abstract thought does not develop until roughly age 12, and yet word problems and reading interpretation make up a large part of the elementary curriculum and testing.

The saddest part about all of this is that our younger children are internalizing this. They see their STAAR scores, and they’re smart enough to know that 54 percent would be a failing grade in class. The system is setting them up to fail now and in the future. Children who see “low” STAAR scores year after year get demoralized and many will give up by the time they hit high school.

My little boy was demoralized. He came home in tears a few years ago because he couldn’t understand the STAAR questions. It killed me to hear him say, “I’m too stupid to do this.” My husband and I were was so worried that we paid to have him tested. His test results came back NORMAL for his age and grade level, and we could not understand what was happening until the test administrator explained to us that the Texas grade standards are one year higher than the rest of the country. The math standards jumped up another two years for the 2014-2015 school year. My stomach is already in knots.

I wish I could say the folks in Austin know how this system is failing our children. I’ve contacted many legislators and several of my friends have testified about what testing culture has done to their children. The only response we get is legislative demands for rigor and more tests. One of the gubernatorial candidates even wants to expand standardized testing to preschoolers. Ugh, they just don’t get it. We have far too many tests as it is, and rigor is worthless when the content is developmentally inappropriate and poorly written.

[Tweet “Academic rigor is worthless when content is developmentally inappropriate and poorly written.”]

My son took six state standardized tests last year, each one running four hours long. My high school daughter has already taken her state algebra exam and must pass four more standardized tests in order to graduate from high school. Everyone in education knows that standardized tests are not an accurate measurement of intelligence or achievement, and yet our state dictates all children must pass these tests to move on to the next grade or graduate. It doesn’t matter if they’ve passed all their classes or if they have special learning needs; the tests decide.

Our kids are not stupid, and our teachers are not lazy. For those of you who hold this belief, I invite you to take a practice STAAR and see how you do. The Texas Education Agency, Pearson and our politicians are pushing a well-financed, and horrifically ineffective, product on Texas children. Four years of this mess is enough.


Listen to the podcast for this post. Writer Kim Keller gets a bit fired up.



345 Comments on Texas officials upset over low STAAR scores; won’t admit problems with the test and curriculum.

  1. Complete civil disobedience parents need to organized a state wide boycott and keep their kids on all days of STARR text. The result low ADA lost monies for low attendance would force the legislators to reform curriculum/excessive testing. Your King and ex-governor started this with contractor making billions of dollars in creating a testing beaucracy for his cronies.

  2. I have hated this test since it came out in 1991 as the TAAS test! No student should have to pass a standardized test to go to the next grade. School should be fun not trarmatizing kids with a test.

  3. Students, teachers, school administrators, parents have been complaining about these crazy standardized test for years. Austin just doesn’t get it or refuses to listen. They just keep spending millions of our tax dollars and making the test worse and worse. What is it going to take.

  4. Texas children may not be completely stupid, but teachers do need to work harder. I am a fresh college graduate with degrees in both civil engineering and general mathematics. I graduated from a great school. I’m also not in debt because I was able to get myself a full ride academically. Through high school and elementary school, I didn’t miss a single question on any of the standardized tests. I felt the questions were worded quite well and they were precise. This also extends to my younger brother who is in high school now. I believe we need to make standardized tests harder to be honest. This is why we constantly lag behind the rest of the world and as someone involved in the sciences outrages me. Go look at every other country in the world that is ranked higher than us and see what they do in their educational settings. They do standardized tests. Hell, Japan ranks every class so the student can know where they are out of every student in their grade around Japan. It creates competition and the students strive to achieve first place. Germany, Norway, Sweden, and every other Northern European country does standardized test, and I am willing to bet they are a lot harder than ours. In conclusion, the people saying we don’t need standardized tests and or that we need to make them easier, I hope you enjoy a mediocre America forever. End rant.

    • The USA is the only country to educate EVERY child. Even students with special needs are given the same test at gifted and talented students. I’ve taught in Europe. They do not educate every child the same. Students are tested and then divided into education groups depending on the results. You are comparing all American students to the top academic students of other countries. That is apples to oranges.

    • Congrats michael. You have a great mind and think as abstractly as the men and woman who wrote the test.
      I highly encourage you to use your superior knowledge to come and teach these young people. Specially the inner city ones, Since you never got even one question wrong you are probably much more qualified to do my job than I am.
      I’m half tempted to leave my email so you can Cal me by lunch your first day and let me know you quit.
      I would be wiling to bet my entire paycheck the students of my school would run you off by the beginning of 3 period.
      When China allows its citizens more than 2 children and educated every one of them, same with japan I wi) listen to your rant about being behind.
      For the record. I took 3 standardized tests in my entire education and graduated with hours from both high school and college. My teachers were allowed to teach me concepts and higher level thinking. They never once mentioned a testing strategy. I only completed as far as advanced math and trig. Pre calc. was never mentioned and I don’t even use algebra in my field, so everything I took beyond freshman math in high school was a waste.
      Again, I highly encourage you to be a tx teacher for a day. And if you survive that, a year.
      You will be singing a different tune my friend.

    • My husband and I are both Civil Engineers, as is my oldest daughter who is likely your age. The Starr tests are nothing like the tests you grew up taking. The math 4th questions are horrifically worded. Take a sample of it to any of your engineering or math professors and they will tell you that no longer are the questions poorly worded, they are wrong!!! They are ambiguous and present absolutes. It is horrific. So, in order to answer the questions to these higher level questions, teachers are teaching “trickery” that will eventually not work in “real” higher level math. They are weak in basic math. And, this is 100% a result to teaching towards the test.

  5. How about we go back to actually teaching students, instead of shoving these stupid standardized tests in their face?? Many that’s the problem…more parents should stand together and fight these tests that stress the kids out. It’s ridiculous!!

    • If teachers teach the standards to mastery, the test wouldn’t be that difficult. There are not many distractors on the actual tests as many people believe. The questions are not that hard. It is school districts who create their own benchmarks that make their tests harder than what the STAAR really is.
      I really do sympathize for students with special needs that have to take the same test as every other student. However, maybe there should not have been such a big push to mainstream these students. If those students were placed in an alternative setting parents would be in an uproar most likely. Well you cant have it both ways.
      And I have also read some comments about the answer choices. Go download the tests, please!!! there is only one correct answer. The tests arent that freaking hard.
      And for many of the people talking about how their kid is an A/B student but do not pass the STAAR test…..classroom grades don’t necessarily mean you will pass or fail the test. Many factors can go into classroom grades such as: weighted assignments, easy tests/assignments that can raise a grade, re-do’s, teacher help, group work, etc.
      That doesn’t necessarily mean your kid has mastered the skills.

      • I hear that a lot. I teach Kindergarten and I can tell you without a doubt these kids are not capable of learning these objectives to mastery. 5 years ago we taught things like how to read a calendar and patterns. Now we skip all that to teach money (which is a very abtract concept), word problems, addition and subtraction to kids who enter inot knowing what a 7 is. You can teach and teach and test and test those objectives but the kids are not learning them, because they are not developmentally ready for it.

  6. After reading this information/post. It is sad that our students feel they are inadequate when it comes to THEZ TEST.. And yes I know how to spell these. I don’t have children in school, but I grand kids, nieces and nephews that are very smart!! But, when it comes to the testing, which answer do I check???? The one for Austin Officials or the students mind thought answer.
    I have teachers that come to me with the same problem. Smart students but they can’t nurish their abilities for learning because everything has to be taught based on the STARR.
    Is this right? As far as my opinion, NO!!
    More testing is unbelievable. The generations coming will have to sign up for testing instead of school. The officials need to do a survey with REAL PEOPLE. Ex-students who dropped out after failing THE TEST two or three times but were honor students through high school.
    Talk with the teachers who can’t teach their kids what 4×3 is without a half page formula…really!!!
    Check with parents and grandparents who have to set in classes for tutoring because there’s a multiple choice question with 4 answers and they all match…BUT… Again, Austin Officials answer or the students answer?!?!

  7. I am so PISSED about this test! Our kids do not enjoy school at all. They think are kids are stupid! The Starr test sucks!!!! What happen to the kids enjoying school, being kids who like school and learning for a change?? Instead they come home depressed hate school and their self esteem is hit hard over this. NOT every child is the same!!! Students are all different. Some learn, absorb, and use different strategies to learn school. Some children who reach high school become dropouts, depressed because they can’t pass this test. I want my child to enjoy school not hate it. Thank you staar for making my child feel like crap!!!!

    • I’am worry my son took the star text and he fail the reading part then he went to summer school and he took it again and now i have a meeting with the principal on Wednesday she will tell me if he pass or not to 6 grade i just feel that he didn’t learn enough this year please give me an advice. Thank so much

  8. Texas children are not stupid. The Starr testing is stupid and we need to put a stop to it. And never call a child stupid.

  9. I think this on the nail. It saddens me that children feel like failures. My own daughter who has a learning disability and is given little to help while testing. I am worried that after me holding her back in 4 the grade so she is more ready for 5th. That she will fail 5 the grade STAR test and be held back again. The fact she started school because of birthday one of the oldest she will be 2-3 years older than her peers. This will be hard to overcome.Let’s say she passes the second term in 5th and get to 7th to fail again this making her 4-5 years older and younger sibling catching up.I know that to me she is very bright and super smart she can figure out math problems from the top of her head but can’t do it on paper let alone the way they want 108 steps that we were taught to figure out in our mind. They rally need to come up with a test that is developmentally appropriate for them.

  10. I have 2 children that are ADHD they use to enjoy going to school until it was time for them to get to that grade to prepare for the STAAR test. Both are on antidepressants and have stomached issues…. Thank you Austin and TEA. Because of not passing the 5th grade Science my son has to attend flex days. The teacher said she will help him this time. He is a 504 student she should have accommodated him the first time. Are teachers are great…. Leave them to do their job…. Go back to basics and get rid of the test. Austin needs to worry about funding our schools and not testing them for everything. Maybe you need to take the test…. I would love to see if you all past.

    • Not real sure what flex days are, but I do know that for 5th grade science, they take the test once and that is it. There is no need to help the student with anything after that. Not to mention, how is it the test’s fault that your son’s teacher didn’t accommodate his needs? Dumb!

      • Some 504 Program children are to have the test read to them….. Maybe you should read more about the program before calling someone dumb.

          • My daughter is on a 504 .she is ADHD works her butt off to get A&B i means works her butt off. Guess what she still hadnt passed one of those damn test and she going into the 11 grade. If she doesnt pass that damn test she doesnt graduate. Please tell me how in the hell that fair.

          • Sorry, let me clarify….I am on Victoria’s side because her son’s needs should’ve been met all year long! For the teacher to now say “I will help him now” is not a good thing (since the test is over and done with). Again, I am just curious what flex days are.

          • our school district are having flex days which are extra school days after school is finished for the year….. that a child has to attend if they did not past the STAAR….among other criterias like not attending 90 percent of the school year….or had 3 disciplinary right ups….or did not pass their core classes. Basically they are punishing our kids. If they don’t attend they will be retained. It is not summer school that starts after these flex days.

  11. I’m waiting to here back from my son which is in 3rd grade to see how he did. I am sick to think that he didn’t pass or that I might have to hold him back. He has ADHD and has a lot of help at school and outside of school but I still don’t thing it helped on the StarrTest. Poor thing he tries so hard and there is nothing I can do but stand by him and get him the help he needs to succeed.

    • Much of the emphasis on testing can cause anxiety in students. The headaches and tummy aches that students complain about are often the affect of worry about passing these often very difficult tests. My colleagues and I fight back by building confidence, teaching best strategies, early tutoring and calling it Reading Club or Math Club, and striving to balance the hard necessary work required with fun, creative, and enjoyable learning activities. We don’t like the testing anymore than anyone else, but we believe that we can counter much of the stress for students by helping them to feel smart and to build their endurance, so when the time comes to take the STAAR, it doesn’t intimidate them so much. It isn’t going to probably get any easier on our kids, so we need to counter with skills and can-do attitudes, so they feel up to the challenge! We are third grade teachers with STAAR testing on our plates as well. So far, they have done well, but it has been a lot of hard work on all our parts!

      • I like your ideas about building “can-do” attitudes. Maybe our students wouldn’t be so dang stressed if people would quit filling their heads with how hard the tests are. Take the elementary tests and you will see they really aren’t that hard!

        • Gregg
          I agree ….our children are coming home from school telling parents that they have to pass the test or they will be retained…. or it makes their school look bad if they don’t. There are teachers that cram this test down their thoats….it is all you hear. Or when you attend school orientation that is all they speak about. It does get stressful because every parent wants their kids to succeed. Let them take the test but don’t punish them for not passing… is just an assessment test for the school. They are leaving the burden on the kids not the teachers.

  12. I’m amazed at all of the energy that’s spent fighting these standardized tests. All teaching has always been to evaluate understanding and comprehension by way of a test. That educators are educated, unionized and unaccountable emboldens them to believe that they alone know what’s best for students the overwhelming preponderance of evidence to the contrary. If education in America were a for profit enterprise, it would have died the ignominious death it so deserves

    • Texas teachers aren’t close to being unionized.. It’s easy to get rid of teachers in Texas compared to most states. It’s nothing like NYC where it’s almost impossible to fire a teacher. Where is this evidence to the contrary you speak of?

  13. These test are ridiculous!! My son is an A student and did not pass the Reading STARR for 5th grade. Explain how that happens. He has always tested well, but not the year. I think they need to go back to the way they used to test. The questions are very tricky and are meant to confuse the reader. Let the teachers teach and quit worrying about teaching these tests!!

    • I’m a Social Studies high school teacher, it breaks your heart to see Juniors in tears because they didn’t pass the U.S. History STAAR, they feel defeated. Some want to drop out, give up…because of a test…? Is that what the state of Texas wants, more drop outs? There is soooo much history we have to bypass because we don’t have time to cover it and all the systematic concepts the state feels are more important. Why have new textbooks with all kinds of cool information that we cannot spend time researching and finding facts on? Texas officials should be upset about the low passing rates, they have proven their millions of dollars and publisher buddies have failed and now they have to answer for the results THEY have cultivated over the last four years! Don’t look for scapegoats, just look in the mirror and have a serious conversation with that person!

  14. The folks in Austin are not interested in fixing Texas public education. They are after the money in public ed, our tax dollars and they will continue to do all they can to break down our current system and siphon off dollars and redirect those funds to their rich buddies. NOW THAT’S WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT.

  15. I agree with many points of this article. As an educator for 21 years, I have seen how detrimental state testing can be to students and educators. Throw this current batch of testing out. Parents also need to opt out of the tests for their kids and take a stand by telling politicians and others that they will no longer allow their children to participate in this misguided testing process.

  16. it isn’t the teachers or the tests, it is the lack of support students get from the home-so many students go to school tired and not willing/able to learn because they have been up late on social media or playing video games, watching TV or spending 2 hours each evening at a sport practice. In my daughter’s 6th grade class there were only 10 students with all A’s out of 296 kids for year end awards and only 20 with A/B. In the next grade there were only 5 with straight A’s and not many more A/B. If there isn’t any support to pass or excel each 6 wks, what makes the state think they will do well on a test.

    • Ummm…try again. All three of my kids are always A/B honor roll. We have them in private tutoring (for the last 2 years) 1 to 2 times a week just to help with STARR. To date, they have all passed the STAAR tests they have taken, but agree they were difficult. My Junior took the PSAT this year and scored in top 18% in English, top 7%in Writing. She felt that the English STAAR questions (when she took it) were tricky and confusing. Don’t get me started on Math. Here is the thing, we can afford the tutoring, what about those who can’t ? All the schools offer are computer based tutoring like Study Island, etc. That doesn’t help the kids that don’t get the concepts. I have a college degree, my husband has college, and is an IT professional /systems programmer and we struggle to help our kids with many parts of the practice STAAR tests that the tutor sends home. So please stop stereotyping parents as lazy because kids are struggling with these tests. The true problem is with our legislators. They use the State’s student population as educational experiments in an effort to find a quick fix solution to the State’s lagging education statistics. Instead of blaming parents (most are dedicated, as are teachers) point your finger at the legislators that are to desperate to do the hard, long term work.

      • Why can’t we all agree that there are a mix of problems -all combined together – that cause our children to fail these tests? It’s naive to think all children have an educationally supportive home environment; all teachers are great teachers, and all neighborhoods are safe to live in. But for far too long teachers, students, and parents have not been held accountable for anything. An “A” in one English class would translate to a “C” in another depending on the difficulty and expectations of all involved. We definitely need to work on improving not only the tests, but all of these other areas that affect the outcome of our children’s education. It should be a group effort where everyone is held accountable – not just the student.

  17. It is awful my son is in 6th grade has dyslexia and therefore has a hard time with reading and writing. He has passing grades in all of his classes and is outstanding in math and science. It is so frustrating for me to tell him year after year “you have to go to summer school” because of this stupid test. They have to come up with something better than this. It is so sad to watch our children to go through this.

  18. A major concern is that with each low score the student suffers from low self esteem that further impedes his or her ability to move up the ladder of achievement. It is heart breaking to observe seniors taking and retaking the exams as graduation hangs in the balance. Educators and students are doing the best they are able with the tools provided. The exam must be restructured!

  19. The problem lies in curriculum not matching the test administration. I have said this from the beginning of the “new” Project Based Learning idea. There is a not direct correlation between pencil paper testing and project based learning. When a person does their part of the project they do not get to fill in the gaps they have missed. There are too many students not learning “the rest of the story”. They do know their part much like the technicians in the lab or the assemblyman on the line, they do not know what the “rest” of the plant is doing or how to do it. So, while they have been “exposed” to the information they only “practice” part of the information – they have no idea how to connect the dots. Children are not equipped with the experiences to sufficiently effectively connect their part to the whole and come out with the right answers.

  20. They do ask for teacher input when creating these questions but I’m not entirely sure of what happens with that input. I’ve been an educator for 22 years, and an administrator for 14 of those years. I’m all about gathering data and preparing kids for the future. What are we preparing them for? To be able to take a test so they can get a little over half of them right? It’s a flawed system and we aren’t assessing and teaching to mastery as a state. What happened to developmental appropriateness or authentic assessment? Not every child learns the same way or on the same timeline. The preparation for a basic skills test should involve engaging students in meaningful lessons that inspire critical thinking. The preparation should involve the development a love of learning and astrong reading and math skill foundation to build upon. The stress on teachers, students and administrators is incredible. Who cam provide reform? What can we do? These are children first and not just a percentage…a score. I’m all about data because measuring progress and accountability is important and necessary, but this system is not working. Let’s get back to teaching and learning. Think of our children first.

  21. I think this bs my kids stay stress out over this test and it right to put them through that.
    I mean from the first day of school they have thiskids getting ready for this test. Do they neeed to learn to move forward in there life not worried about a test. My kids have came home crying and stress talking about I cant do this and all this and it bs.

  22. Who make up the questions for the STAAR test? Is it teachers from that grade level? NO. Is it even a teacher? NO It would be interesting to see your reaction when you learn who makes up the questions for the Texas STAAR test.

  23. Well, When you have to lower the passing rate to 54% or lower that should tell you the test is not geared to the average student.Just because you raise the difficulty of the test does not make our children smarter. On the contrary, it makes the average student feel stupid!!!!

    • Add to that the fact that a new bill recently passed requiring that students only need to pass 3 of the 5 high school EOC tests in order to get their diploma.

  24. I keep seeing people mention “teaching to the test.” I would like to hear some actual examples of what that means to you. In my eyes, STAAR tests the standards that students are supposed to learn throughout the school year. So are people saying teaching them the standards teaching the test?

    • The Questions, especially in math, have distractors, the kids get lost in the problems. They can do the computations, but the math test is also a reading test. 8-9 year olds in third grade, 9-10 year olds in 4th grade and 10-11 year olds in 5th grade do not have the cognitive ability to decipher those questions as easily as you think. We teach the content and then have to give them examples of how it “could” be asked. This year we had content move down 2-3 years. So material previously taught in 6-7th grade now is in 4th and 5th grade. How is that right? Because TEA decided based upon Federal Mandates that we had to. We are very closely aligned to Common Core. Educators need to be included in the test writing not a company in London that just lost the contract!

    • Algebra EOC is a logic based test. The actual math standards are not that difficult, it’s the logic in finding the answer. Over half the problems are just reading, but the answers are small, minute details that people certified in math with a 4-year could easily miss. There is no way the average 14 year old with under-developed cognitive abilities can master the test. It’s not possible. I have a minor in neuroscience and a B.A. in mathematics.

    • Teaching to the test means we are killing and drilling using worksheet after worksheet teaching kids how to choose the correct answers and not be fooled by the “almost” correct ones. Fun and spontaneity have completely been taken out. Hands on activities, forget it. Real world scenarios, nope. Again, you can’t just teach kids the standards, especially in elementary school, you’ve got to teach them how to pass the test, how to not be tricked, all things that students in elementary are not ready for. Pass the test at all costs!

    • Did you even read the article? The questions are developmentally inappropriate for the age groups being given them. Teaching to the test is trying to teach kids how to decipher these questions and find a correct answer.

  25. Get rid of these test. It proves nothing. I think as long as the child is passing his/her regular classes. Then let them be. It shouldn’t go by what the test score says if they pass or not. What is it telling the kids if you have A’s and B’s all year long but you failed the Starr test you can’t move to the next grade or you can’t graduate. I believe that hurts the child more than anything. It’s telling them you will be nothing if you don’t pass that STARR test or any other state test. Do away with the test people and let the teachers and students relax and breathe for a change. I ask you to try a year or so without test and see how the children really do.

    • My son was in Pre AP in 6th grade and had all A’s in reading and language the entire year but failed the reading portion of the STAAR… So he was forced to give up an elective in 7th grade for a class to teach him how to pass the reading STAAR test! I asked him what happened… He said he just didn’t finish because he gets distracted very easily with noise in a quiet room… Pencils on paper, erasing, etc. and he isn’t allowed to put his headphones on or be in a separate room. He has been so broken hearted not being allowed to be in art and feels punished for this test.

      • Request extra time and small group. If he practices this way during the year he qualifies to take the STAAR this way.

  26. It s time to study child psychology and realize children are being expected to do things they are not develpmentally ready for.

  27. Get Rid of the test and go back to basic teaching. Some Kids can’t even read or understand the math. The teachers have to spend the whole first semester getting the kids ready for the staar test which is in the second semester. Wasted time …this time could have been spent on teaching the kids reading, math, history and science and making sure they understand it. Kids don’t even enjoy school anymore. They are stressed out over the test and their grades on the test. They don’t even get taught how to actually study or to take descent notes. These skills would help them in high school and college. Instead, they are taught ways to pass the staar and they still fail. Stupid waste of time and money.

  28. I haven’t read all of the comments, but I’m a teacher of 24 years. I grew up just outside of Houston with many wonderful experiences. I have taught in a very rural area where kids have extremely limited experiences and little to no support from parents who themselves were raised with limited experiences. The people writing the curriculum & tests have no idea of what’s age appropriate and what we’re even trying to do with students in these situations. One day a mention was made of a staircase and my 3rd grader had no idea what that was, she’d never seen one! In discussion another day we were deciding what type of measurement would be used to measure an actual lion and one student mentioned she had never seen a lion before. We as teachers are doing all we can, but there’s only so much a child can absorb in one school year. I have high expectations, but realistic ones. TPTB, have no idea about children and their developmental processes. Don’t think that good teaching will prepare students for the test, the only way students can pass the STAAR is by being taught the test. My district has basically told us to do that. It doesn’t matter what our students actually learn, it just matters how our data looks. It’s all a numbers game, we’re data driven, no longer student centered.

  29. I agree with this. I do not have kids taken tests yet but I work in a school and these kids learn nothing but test and when they get into the real world this will be all they know. School in Texas is no longer talking about how to get through college and get a degree or how to live in the adult world. Paying your bills and time management. School just will never be that way in Texas and it is quite sad. I know as a parent you have to make sure you are teaching your kids as well and encouraging them every moment that these test do not make you!

  30. if i was a school principal these days i would require 2 hours a day just taking practice tests and another hour going over the answer….guarantee my school would be held up as a model for the State and win all kinds of awards……much to the kids detriment….although every student in the school would be great test takers which would serve them well later on……

    • We can’t continue to test our kids to death. By the time they get to sixth grade they have already taken so many test. They are being tested by the teachers, the districts and the state almost weekly. Don’t get me wrong testing is okay, but why over do it. Students still need to be prepared for the real world; socially, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically…this can’t be taught to them through all this testing.

      Elementary Teacher

  31. As a fifth grade teacher, I am definitely in the minority. I think tests are important. Without the tests like staar, we would not truly understand how much a child has grasped in the content area. The reasons children do not do well are varied. I know it is taboo, but yes there are really bad teachers. I would venture to say that there are just as many bad teachers as good teachers, but of course my conjecture is simply based on my 19 years of teaching and observance. It is by no means scientific. I have seen teachers not teach. I have seen teachers not hold kids accountable. I have seen teachers want to be a child’s friend. And quite simply, I have seen just poor lectures and activities on the part of teachers. Parents also play a role on how children do. If you are not making sure they read and practice every day,then you have no right to complain. I have taught STAAR grades, and I still do. Students pass my Math STAAR at high levels. I had a 90 percent passing rate in the last STAAR math test I gave. Yes, I teach in a low socioeconomic area and we are Title 1 school. How did I accomplish this? I made sure students understood the material. How was this accomplished? Through intensive instruction. I went back to the old school ways. Although I did cooperative grouping and much hands on activities, if a child did not understand then we would do reviews, repetition and practice. It worked! If a child truly understands math, or any other subject, then he or she will be able to apply those skills in any part of their lives–whether it is on a test or in the real world. Tests are here to stay. If your child is having difficulty, then I would suggest talking to their teacher so that he or she can tailor lessons that specifically meet your child’s needs. there are many online resources that you can use to help your child improve. I use many of these resources with my own children. I have a child in second grade. I am being proactive in my approach to these tests. I am making sure that she is ready to ace them when she goes on to third grade!

    • 100% agree with you on all points! Congrats on your hard work and success of your students! Keep up the good work.

      P.S. Those who are disliking the STAAR test also need to really keep in mind that what you are complaining about are the standards. The test is a review of the standards that all teachers are supposed to teach. If teachers hold students accountable and teach the standards to mastery, then students will be successful.

        • There is so much to cover that if you take time to really develop a conceptual understanding of the material, you will run out of time. Happened to me this year. As a result, my scores were highest in number operations but low in other areas that were sped up because I took the time to teach to mastery

    • The only thing I have a huge problem with is the standards that are so abstract that the fifth grade mind struggles desperately to understand. I, too, am a fifth grade teacher. I teach the standards, and I have very high expectations. I only had one child below the 54% passing rate (if that is even where they set it this year). He came to me in January, having been placed in 5th grade. I also have a degree in child psychology and these tests are inappropriate. I have been in the classrooms of the other math teachers on my campus and the rest of the scores were horrible. In fairness, I have all the G/T students, but they are by no means all gifted in math. I had to work. 40% of them would be commended. I was thrilled with my results, but what I have seen in my years with G/T and without in years past is that G/T kids, even in low socio-economic neighborhoods tend to have more life experiences than non-G/T kids. It makes a difference. I also teach science. There is no way to teach them every animal in the world, yet every animal is fair game. I had a child who didn’t know what a blue jay was. Truly, I was blown away. Tests are here to stay, however, they need to be age appropriate and not filled with questions that aren’t testing a child’s math skills but their ability to decipher what math they are even supposed to do. That is not realistic to the real world. When I go out to my garden, I know I need perimeter for the border, volume for the soil, and area to find out how much ground is covered by my garden. The problems given on the tests are not that straightforward. They are absurd. And now the state says they won’t release the test. That is a bunch of bullpoopy! We as teachers need to know whether we are interpreting the TEKs correctly. I think teachers should take the state to court, if only we could, and demand they release the math test. Sorry for the rant, but I don’t know what kind of low SES school you work in, but 1 out of every 8 of our kids has a family member in prison and many are from broken homes. Their parents are working 3 jobs to raise their kids and can’t be at home to help them. We are teachers, not miracle workers. I have never been so tired as I am this year.

      • I too have had children from broken homes. I have had all kinds of children. Your comment that “I do not know what title one school you teach at” is basically insulting. We cannot control what happens outside of the classroom, but we can control what happens in the classroom. I worked my butt off to teach these kids. It is NOT easy. I ask permission from the parent to keep them after school and before school and I work with them from DAY one. I know it is a race from the get-go, I have been there, done that. It takes talent and intelligence to be able to teach these kids all the material in a way that makes sense to them. But they do get it. I have seen it. Most of the teachers at my school teach the curriculum. I teach the children. As far as the special education children are concerned, I have these kids every year as well. Many of these kids do not pass the STAAR test, that is why I do not get 100%. But that is okay. I do not ram it down their throats. I teach the math that they are able to grasp and I NEVER stress the STAAR test to them. I tell them to do their best and that is all. As long as I can show that they have improved (using other measures), then their year has truly been a success.

    • I am a Reading Specialist. I also work for a low socioeconomic/Title 1 school. I have high expectations when it comes to my students. 91% of our 5th graders passed the Math STAAR (6 classes of 5th graders). I agree we need a system of accountability. However, the current system is severely flawed. I appreciate that you are working as a parent to help your child be successful. What about the students who do not have the same support? What about the 10% of your students (and mine) who did not pass despite phenomenal instruction? What about the student I have who suffered head trauma, now has special needs, and was required to take the exact same test as the honor students in his class? Do I just brush this child off because he fell within the 10%? Should I stop focusing on him (and others like him) and let him fall through the cracks? We set him up for failure. I cannot, in any way, justify the stakes our state attaches to this ONE test. It’s disgusting. I hope that you stay in the minority with your opinion of the test if you believe the failures our students are experiencing are merely due to a lack of parenting and teaching techniques.

  32. As a spouse of a teacher, lack of district enforcement of discipline keeps disruptive students in class causing a completely disruptive atmosphere and inability for borderline students to be able to absorb what they are being taught. District will not expel students for fear of losing funding for the disruptive trouble makers. Thats was her #1 problem.

  33. More rigor, better teaching, better curriculum, higher standards…in the midst of the worst budget cuts since the Korean War. Even this subpar-public school teacher sees the problem with that. Our politicians are failing. Not our kids.

  34. Yes!! As a PhD in curricum an instruction, I am horrified at what my kids bring home from school an the STAAR. A Corporate takeover of schools needs to perpetuate the myth of crappy schools and crappy teachers so they can swoop in and save the day. Thank you for writing this! Keep up the good work!

  35. I must be the only person who is for the test! Please take the time and look at the released tests. They are not that hard! The math test is not ALL 4 step problems like some people want you to believe. Their are very few questions that “try and trick” the students. You are seeing those types of questions from schools and school districts who have created their own questions/tests. My own kids perform very well on STAAR. Does that make them brilliant?? NO…… There are many many many bad teachers out there. The test is based on the standards, which is what teschers should be teaching in their classroom. Someone tell me why a 3rd grader shouldn’t be able to add, subtract, multiple, divide, and read with fluency????
    In fact, I think kindergarten through 2nd grade should have a basic skills test so that we quit passing students on through the grade levels who are not ready. Start motivating students and teach the standards and quit worrying about the test. None of them are really that hard.

    • Greg…please tell me why a 5th grader needs to know the difference in property tax, school tax, income tax, and sales tax? The difference in debit and credit? How to write a check? They are 10 years old!!! I can’t speak for you but I never allowed my 10 year old to write checks!

      • You are speaking to one small part of a 60 question test in which all of those sjills you stated are supporting standards and may or may not have even been on the test. We will see when the test is released. I do however see a need to learn the vocabulary. Those are life long things they will use. However, writing checks may soon be a lost art, but doubtful they put that on the test.

    • You need to understand that reading passages have been analyzed and they tend to be at least one year and sometimes up to 3 years above grade level. Math concepts are introduced at developmentally inappropriate times. Many 7th graders are not developmentally ready for Algebra, yet they are expected to understand it in 7th grade now.. This is demoralizing for children. Would you try to teach your toddler to do long division? No. Would you penalize a preschool teacher for not being able to teach division to her students? No. Also, the parents and teachers do not get to see what their children are specifically struggling with- in fact, we won’t get seventh grade math scores until Augur. How do we know what to help our children improve? Reading comprehension questions are poorly worded- there are many more issues . Basically, the STAAR is testing how well students can take a test- not the material. My child who tested as GT in Math received a 74% on the Math STAAR from 3rd last year. Seriously? The kid knows Math. He can multiply and divide large numbers mentally. He’s smart as a whip. Don’t even get me started on the writing STAAR. This system is BROKEN and needs to be changed. Pearson is the only one who profits. Lucky for you that your kids are good test-takers. I was a good test taker in school. Is that what we want to measure. Do some research on the STAAR.

      • I agree that what our children are expected to know is not developmentally appropriate. No amount of teaching can change the development of their brains. My 1st grader had multiplication on her homework the other day. What!? !

        • August is a stretch we are hearing as late as November so if your child missed more than half I would be concerned. 8th grade next year will count for SSI where they have to pass.

      • Many years ago I took Algebra in 7th grade. Yes these kids can be ready if they are taught correctly and taught how to critically think. I have done research on the STAAR test. I will agree there are some poorly worded questions but those are few and far between. As a matter of fact I did teach both of my kids long division when they were in 2nd grade. It’s really not difficult. In traveling all around Texas observing teachers, sadly many are not equipped to do what it takes to get students to be successful. You wouldnt believe how many teachers just hand out worksheets and expect students to do it. Or they sit behind a desk. All students can be successful, trust me.

        And to Kelly: yes I am a teacher.

        P.S. I will be honest and not speak about the writing STAAR as I do not know much about it.

    • Greg, you are obviously not a teacher and a sampling is not the whole story. I teach 4 th grade reading. The test is absurd. The students have 7-8 stories to read. It is over kill. Not many 4th graders have the maturity and stamina to read that long and why should they they are only in 4th grade. The test tells me nothing about the students and certainly does not indicate to me whether they are smart or not. It does not indicate to me whether they are ready for the next grade or not or whether they will finish high school. It is in my opinion an abusive test and very off the mark developmentally. I agree there needs to be some type of assessment but this is not the answer. This test does not account for all the different levels and learning styles of these students. We are even responsible for special Ed kids whose instructional levels are two – three years below their grade level. They too, are expected to pass this test on level.
      It is absurd!! This article speaks the truth. Stop the insanity!!!

      • Yes I am a teacher actually. I never spoke about the length of the test. I agree that 7-8 stories is long for a 4th grader. I think the 4 hour time limit is absurd as well. Im not saying the test is flawed. I’m just stating that it is not as hard as many people make it out to be. With that being said, the length of the reading test and the time limit is no secret. So we as teachers need to prepare our students for that until(or if) it changes. That doesnt mean more homework either. Motivate them to want to read, read a novel in class, give them time to read. There are many ways to improve their stamina.
        As for special ed, 100% agreement with you!

        • Gregg the bottom line is the test are developmentally inappropriate! I think it is wonderful your were able to teach your children long division in second grade, however your children have a father to help them and a mother also, I am assuming. I would bet money you have a middle class life and the ability to care for and encourage your children. You and your children are not the reality. Most of the students in public schools are poor, with out core family and have not advanced as they should developmentally. So, according to your view point all kids, with the exception of SpEd, should be able to pass the exams if their teachers are good enough!

          I disagree, the number of variables involving the readiness of children when they reach school are enormous. The standards are out of line with the youth of today!! Can they learn, yes!! The education system has not advanced its curriculum nor its teaching methods to account for the mobile, technical and new learners of this century. These learners are in the classroom with autism, emotional issues, ADHD and a multitude of other issues, I am not saying they should be removed, but fully supported.

          What the state chooses to test is either irrelevant, not developmentally appropriate or has not place in the current time. The test is flawed we cannot be okay with what you say are a few issues; test is too long, poorly worded questions, SpEd issues, skills taught without context and are tested (checkbook), a few trick questions, reading is to much and bad teachers. Unless you have taught at the school where these “bad teachers” teach you cannot speak to the bad teacher epidemic. You can only assess the teachers you teach with, who have the same population you teach.

          I do believe in an assessment, one that takes the standards as they are written and creates a test to assess the curriculum to be taught. These assessments should be used by the teachers to assess their ability to teach effectively and modify and adjust to improve instruction. Which improves students attainment of material necessary to advance to the next level of education. The test should be no more than an hour long, with simple straight forward questions and answers. There should not be a scaled score to confuse parents just a simple percentage of questions passed. No levels of pass, recommended or advanced. Teachers could then use the information to inform their teaching. The assessment should not be changed every other year but kept the same each year, unless the standards change. If the standards change they need to be in the teachers hands one year before the new standards are reflected in assessments.

          I, too am an educator, for 21 years I have taught, been a principal, counselor, Federal Grants Coordinator, Project Director of an afterschool grant and a college professor. I have experience with students Pre-K through Masters students. What I see at all levels is students who are not allowed to explore concepts, come to their own conclusions, play with the materials, take the time to learn the concepts in depth and determine their own worth. This is done by a group of politicians and agencies who for the most part never see the actual impact of there mandates and policies reflected in the faces of the students and parents.

          • Sharon,
            I do agree with some of what you said and disagree as well. I do agree with taking the standards as written and formulating a teat on those. However, most of the tests now do exactly that. Sure there are some enrichment type problems that are difficult but again thats a very small sample of the test.
            I did teach at a school that was 70-75% eco-dis. 70% hispanic, etc etc etc.
            In fact, all of the students I service now are at the lowest performing schools across the state. I do know what I am talking about when I say that ALL students can be successful. And yes, that also means I observe teachers across the state and have the clout to say there are many bad teachers. I am not stuck in a bubble 🙂
            The time limit is a whole different issueissue.
            Most people on here are complaining about the testhet itself. What they should be complaining about are the standards.
            This is just an outside thought but why dont we quit passing along kids at the lower grade levels who can’t read. I always hear that it is socially damaging to retain a student. Wouldn’t it be just as socially damaging when these students can’t read or do basic math at upper grade levels?

      • I apologize for my “error” in using the wrong “There, their or They’re”. I re-read my paper however, I missed the error. Thank you for the correction and I hope you will now forgive me my failings as a human and reconsider that I have made a valid argument.

    • Are you serious? You are blaming this on bad teachers? Which ones? I hope you are including their kinder-second grade teachers because no one can possibly teach all those TEKS in one year no matter how dedicated. Did you know that there are other STAAR tests besides math like writing in 4th grade? Do you have any idea the expectations they have to meet in writing? And yes they are very difficult for the age of the student who is expected to complete it. In fact, groups of intelligent teachers have to debate the correct answers to RELEASED official STAAR tests used in previous years.

    • How about dyslexic kids?? I have a child who tested gifted but also has dyslexia. Do you mind explaining to me how she can be expected to “read fluently” with dyslexia? How can she be expected to take the exact same test in the exact same timeframe as a child who doesn’t have dyslexia? My child isn’t stupid and she has phenomenal teachers, but she struggles with this test and according to your thought process that mean she is stupid or has failed or we have failed as her parents or her teachers have failed. That is utter nonsense.

    • Gregg, what you are not understanding is that ALL kids learn differently and at different rates. I work with tier 3 students in 2nd through 5th grades (those would be the ones who struggle the most). It can takes them weeks of repeated practice to pick up a skill the average student picks up in a few days. These new standards effect students in grades PK-2 also. For example, my district wants every third grader reading on grade level. Therefore my 2nd grade students who did not reach a DRA 28 (Diagnostic Reading Assessment) have to go to summer school. It doesn’t matter that they started the year at a 6 or 10 and got to an 18 or 24.
      As far as your question about a 3rd grader not being able to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and read with fluency; how about these which I had in my classroom this year:
      1. hasn’t/doesn’t get read to or with at home
      2. has only been in the country a year
      3. has difficulty staying focus for even 2 minutes in a small group
      4. has anger issues and throws things (therefore frequently in OCS)
      5. was/is homeless
      6. misses school frequently because parent won’t bring them to school
      7. hungry (some students will not get to eat unless they eat at school- that is why some schools feed students even in the summer and send home food bags on Friday during the school year)
      The test and the standards are only two of many problems with our educational system. I really think it is time we rethink the whole school concept.

  36. The professor quoted is exactly right.

    The tests intentionally try to trip up young children in grade school with convoluted, multi-part questions. In a typical math problem the student has to figure out three sub-problems before they get the answers they need to calculate the solution to the ASKED problem.

    The wording of the questions on the worksheet reads like a joke: “Which of the following are not untrue …” and then all the answers are negatives. “The boy did not … ” etc.

  37. Yes. STAAR is disastrous. What can you do? KEEP YOUR CHILD HOME on test/retest days. If enough parents would, we will make a difference. My child was so relieved he didn’t have to take it and that I stood up to the abuse. If they don’t knock it off, next step is home school.

  38. The test is beyond anything words can say. Besides the fact it is developmentally inappropriate for the children. When the scores come in all we get from our district is a yes they passed or no they didnt. How am I as a parent supposed to help my child if I don’t even get to know what they struggled with on the test. This test is single handedly destroying the self confidence of our teachers and children. Great job Austin. This needs to stop.

  39. Lala, I have a similar situation to yours and I and have been wanting to start a campaign or something to open the eyes of legislators. Please email me, so we can discuss our options. As a parent AND teacher, I am fed up with high stakes testing.

  40. I’m am beyond angry with this STAAR test. To see my son balling in tears today was the worst day of my life. We all need to come together and soon because this fxxxxxx test is bullshit & isn’t benefiting anybody in any way. My son does great during the year & has come a long way from struggles with comprehension. Anybody willing to get a group together & make noise let me know. I’m tired of feeling like I’ve failed my son when I know I haven’t after seeking help thru public places such as Kumon which are not cheap and even a private tutor and not to forget the numerous days he’s had to stay after school for tutorials in math & reading due to preparation of this damn test. My son is awsome a great chess & saxophone player. He’s not ignorant nor stupid nor slow he’s just a 12 year old kid in 6th grade trying to do the right thing. God help us.

    • Lala and Krystal,

      If you’d like to get involved in the fight, please check out Texans Against Meaningless State Assessments (TAMSA). This group has been VERY successful with legislators; they’ve helped reduce the # of tests our kids have to take and they’re working hard to change the system.

  41. I think all these test are worse on the kids they get the kids all up set about passing them and what they will do if they fell them its all bullshit i think we all need to go to Austin and tell them to back off our kids. I have a special needs child he cant read but yet he has to take this stupid test and pass with no help REALLY i would like to know how these people are a bunch of assholes in Austin

  42. Where do we get copies of the STAAR? I would live to see what the kids are tested on. I see the worksheets they use for practice and think they are confusing.

    • Google “STAAR released tests”. It will take you to a TEA website, and from there you will need to scroll down to find the grade level and subject you wish to view. Don’t click on the “Assessed Curriculum” or the “Blueprint”. These will only tell you the category or TEKS concept that is being tested.

    • google TEA released tests. In math the standards changed so we don’t have a released and I have heard they are not releasing this years test, but who knows parent pressure gets more done than teachers. They do not listen to us and think we do not want to do the work. That is not it, these tests have standards that are developmentally inappropriate!! That needs to be addressed. The fractions in 4th grade are extremely difficult and some have pictures and some don’t!

  43. Who is kidding who??? After 34 years in a classroom and speaking from a wide range of experience, testing tells a teacher little. Yes, scores profile which students need help and in what subject matter areas….that”s about it. Teachers need to teach and students need to learn subject matter….not how to take a test. Legislators
    need to concentrate on how to better accommodate the needs of students and create stronger school districts. Inevitably, we are going to create a generation of poorly
    educated, ill prepared, uninformed citizens. Attaching the salary of a teacher to the performance of a student on a test is absolute idiocy. How can a teacher help it if a student doesn’t understand a concept, is slower than another student, has no one at home to help them do homework, lost sleep the night before the test and wants to sleep during testing? Furthermore, how can a teacher teach when they are repremanded for “low test scores”! They didn’t take the test. Then there are the students, who become anxiety ridden due to the test, are not test takers, get ill thinking about the pressures of taking the test…….apparently our legislators know nothing about education; but they sure know how to listen to lobbyists, testing companies, and high pressure organizations getting a kickback from the testing companies. The whole situation screams “fraud”.
    Teachers work hard…..way beyond any eight hour day. They too have a life, family, obligations, outside interests, yet are among the lowest paid in the state. They educate the future citizens of our country, they guide and nurture their students; yet the legislature wants to hold their feet to the fire over some ill prepared, non-sensical test! Absolutely Ridiculous!!!!!!!!!

  44. The tests put so much stress on the teachers and students that they try to overload on one or two subjects. My girls leave the house at7 am. They get home by4:30-5 then have 1-4hours of homework. Very little time for outside. They cant just keep packing information in without any physical activity. My kids work day is longer than mine. They need sometime to be a kid….

  45. I was always a good student made A’s and B’s always made honor roll along with student of the month. Teachers bragged about me to the next year teachers. Taking the TAAS and TAKS I always did alright but through the year the teachers could only teach material that would help us with the test. Now in college I do very poorly to my standards of D’s and C’s. I had to take college algebra 4 times before I passed with a C and I had a tutor. I never had to study in school and now I have no idea how or what to study for tests in college. These test do nothing for the kids and help in no way we need to get rid of these tests especially since the state does nothing but make them harder year after year.

    • It’s all talk, and parents have pushed for it several times.

      I’ve personally volunteered to take all of them with the kids, but they won’t even return my calls.

  46. This Test(Starr) is horrible. Let the teachers teach what real life things not a test that does not help them in life. But hurt this kids. If the teachers can’t teach them all year long and pass then the kids don’t pass. I wish they would stop all this test. Most kids can’t stay focus long enough to take the test. And this kids already want to quiet. I would like to see all the people In congress,and people who make this test take them. And see how much stress it puts on this kids. Most kids don’t have what it takes to pass this tests.. Because they worry to much about passing it. It fails them!!! Please take this test away!! They help nobody!!

  47. These high pressure tests are causing an alarming rise in test anxiety for the young generation. How can a test summarize your entire school year? Most students perform well in their regular classes but panic because they have to pass the STAAR test. I’ve cried and panicked over my children’s STAAR results. I have explained to them in detail that tests do not define them. Their actions and behavior do. The testing system has to change or we’ll have a generation that can’t handle stress or pressure b because the public school system failed to educate them.

  48. Thank you for writing this! I have seen the STAAR curriculum my 9yr old brings home for homework and it’s beyond ridiculous. His own teacher will grade it wrong even and I have learned that these questions are very vague and are primarily based on interpretation and thinking “outside the box”. I myself have helped my son come up with the answer only to have it marked wrong! I ended up speaking to the principal as this happened twice and she even admitted these questions are not appropriate for these kids. We are in the KATY ISD here in Katy, Texas and I am appalled at this curriculum. Math isn’t about interpretation but facts based on the information given. I have no problem letting the legislature know they have failed these kids in the worst way as now they will label themselves as “dumb and stupid”. I’d love for these law makers to take this exam and see their reaction to the test. Also, many students are horrible test takers yet excel with their homework and classroom work. It’s absurd.

  49. Thanks to the schools just teaching for the test my son has been pushed through grades, now in fifth grade no way ready for the six grade. He still can not multiply, let alone do division or fractions. We have been to the school asking help in this nob results, it is not just the FWID, as we switched districts this year from WSID. It is time to go back to real teaching

    • They do not let us retain very often. It is extremely hard to retain, even at an SSI grade. I have a student that had no ideal about the place value in math and adding and making 10 these are 2nd grade skills. There are bad teachers, but they also throw so much at us in the lower grades that we cannot keep up with how long we teach this, pull this group of kids when you have extreme behaviors that are throwing chairs. Yes, I have good classroom management. I have had Aspbergers kids with no support and diagnose ADHD kids not medicated, bipolar kids not medicated, no support at home for minor discipline issues that then escalate. We have to have admin support, parent support and strong teachers! I cannot close a 2-3 year gap in one year, I don’t have those super powers! I normally see growth in my kids!! That makes me happy

  50. YES! Thank you for writing this! I have been seeing poorly written questions on my son’s reading homework, too. Some were just flat-out WRONG.

    As a parent, I am angry that kids and teachers are having to put up with such poorly written assignments. And as a taxpayer, I think our children deserve better materials and think the companies should be held to a higher accountability to not put out garbage. These materials should be well vetted and shouldn’t have any “kinks” when implemented in the classrooms.

  51. This is why I will either be homeschooling or sending my kids to private school next year. I have a son that will be a freshmen in HS next yr. He is dyslexic and needs to be taught the way he is bent. The state is ignoring this!

  52. Why don’t you provide your school’s name and your subject so we can verify its results via the TEA reports. Congratulations on teaching to the test though, you must be very proud.

  53. I should have finished the question. How many Staar Tests have you taken? Staar has only been around since 2012 and the class of 2014 only took the TAKS test their whole time they were in school. Staar is a WHOLE lot different than theTAAS, or the TAKS.

  54. I am a third grade teacher. For years, I have been very vocal about my concerns regarding how we test students in Texas. My loudest complaint has been that we are expecting students to master concepts for which they are not developmentally ready. The response from administrators has always been a shrugging of shoulders and a half-hearted comment about how it serves a purpose.
    In addition, it breaks my heart to see my 8 and 9 year old students stressed out and crying over these tests. As much as I try to calm their fears and reassure them, many are still scared to death on test day. I have been a Texas teacher for over 20 years, received several awards, have awesome rapport with students, and genuinely love children; however, I’m not sure I can stay in the classroom much longer. I’m tired of being forced to torture children with unfair expectations to appease others’ political aspirations.

    • You are very brave and honest for expressing your feelings and experiences. I hope things improve and you stay in the teaching field. We need to keep good teachers.

    • I have taught 4th and 5th since STAAR was implemented. The last year of TAKS I had 100% pass, since then in 4th and 5th I have been in 60’s and 70’s? Did my teaching change? No- other than standards. We were given a curriculum, investigations, that is not aligned and I had to figure out how to teach it to fidelity, while meeting my kids needs. This year I did my thing and had my scores much better, although I don’t know the passing standards, I watched my kids! They worked hard and were not stressed as much because I downplayed the test as much as possible.

  55. I agree, have all the people that have constructed these test taken a test we construct for them. They decided that if our kids, even though they are passing the enter year, have to pass these test to move to the next level or graduate. If these people dont pass these test, they do not get paid, and until they do, they dont get paid. You people are telling our kids that even though they did outstanding all year long with A’s, B’s, or C’s, if they do not pass these tests, all their hard work all year was not good enough. Tell me hot shot education people, where do you think this will lead to.

  56. I would like to see all of those who are in office take the test. I bet you they couldn’t pass the test. Of they can’t pass the test it goes away.

  57. UnitedOpt We moved to CO 3 years ago. Too much testing Everywhere. It’s all about the money. The districts Are required to spend large amounts of their own budget for materials for the students to even take the test. (chrome books, etc). The state cannot legally force your child to take a standardized test. The tests are also scaled. My daughter scored a 30 out of 30 on one portion of the Stanford 10. Then her scaled score was 65%. Also, your child’s information is not confidential. We are opting out of the PARCC and CMAS in CO.

  58. I was a senior the year before they started STAAR testing so they had us try the test to serve as guinea pigs before it actually used it. As a senior I struggled to pass the Sophomore level tests. I graduated with a 3.9 GPA, was in IB/AP classes, and was in the top 10% of my class and this test kicked my butt to the point I was grateful to escape before it was put into actual use. Teaching to the test is wrong in my opinion, but teaching to a test that is difficult for most adults to pass is ridiculous and needs to be stopped. It’s not education its mental bullying.

  59. I have a degree in Math and teach Algebra 1 in Texas. I agree that these tests are ridiculous. There questions are purposefully worded in a way to confuse the reader. When a group of Algebra 1 teachers have to debate over what a correct answer is, only to decide when they are actually given the answer, then the question is not valid. I have to teach my students “tricks” to decipher the correct responses. They are not being tested on their knowledge if Algebra, they are being tested on how well they can take a test.

  60. The new STAAR test is intentionally too hard, and designed to be a little harder each year. A reason these first test scores have been low is because they are forcing teachers to change how they teach, essentially changing the game without telling the players the new rules. For example, remember back in English I when you were taught to write a 500 – word essay in the ol’ 1-3-1 format? That type of writing will fail you today on the STAAR test. At a conference where test questions were discussed, the author of a particular problem was asked to decipher the correct answer. The teachers present are still baffled at how to teach the answer to kids.

    • The key is developmentally inappropriate. People like to blame teachers for poor student performance but can you imagine having a class full of students (literally busting at the seams with students) no teachers assistant, students with specials needs and trying to teach students a concept that their brain is not ready to understand?!? Being forced to teach concepts that make the kids feel stupid for not understanding when really they shouldn’t yet!?! It’s discouraging and frustrating to teachers who measure their own success based on their students. As teachers we are always trying to find the best ways to engage our students and teach in a way that they can retain concepts and skills while building confididence and instilling ethics and good character. We use our money (and we don’t have much) to purchase supplies for our students, we use our personal time to plan, grade evaluate our students learning then plan again so we can go back tomorrow and try a new approach that might be more successful . We work daily to be better teachers so that our students don’t experience failure. How can we do this with standards and assessments that do the complete opposite?

      Standards are defeating students and blaming teachers who are fighting tooth and nail to teach concepts that these kids are not developmentally ready for. The only way this will change is if PARENTS get fired up enough to demand change.

  61. I just wanted to clarify something for parents. Yes, in the 5th grade passing is set at 54%, and commended is set at 85%, but that is only for 5th grade math. 6th grade math is 42%, 7th grade math is 43%, 8th grade math is 39%, and Algebra 1 is 38%. Therefore the only time students are required to get half the questions correct is in the 5th grade. All other years passing is currently set far below 50%. What’s the point?

    • Last year 3rd grade was 56% and 4th was 59% so 5th was not the only one over 50% and these are the kids just learning to do standardized tests. This year we won’t know until November? Well that is no help and do you know why? They need to see the state averages to set the pass rate. If this test is developmentally appropriate then we would not have to wait. Yes, I teach and yes I am frustrated to the point of leaving if I can find a different career and I love teaching! Not this way! To do my job I literally have to work 12 hours a day and 8 hours one weekend day. I don’t get overtime, a stipend for teaching in a difficult school, yet I do it anyway. Why? The kids…the kids.

  62. I graduated from a Texas high school this past spring, and nearly did not graduate do to state course curriculum requirements. I started high school in Pennsylvania (a more structured setting with organized teachers, courses, tests and curriculums) doing, I’ll admit, ok. Moving to Texas, I started taking AP everything; passing my classes with flying colors- but noticing an obvious difference between the two state’s organizations. I took the TAKS test (the Texas Assesment of Knowlede and Skills)- and scored commended in every category- except English. I had a simple, common mis-bubble that threw off the rest of my test answers. It was the only explanation I could come up with considering I had the highest grade in AP English IV, tutored students in all four English courses and participated in 6 UIL reading/writing focused teams (during my senior year alone). I was devastated, but I understood when my counselor told me that I needed to retake the TAKS test.

    The next day, I went to my AP English class to find a new schedule on my desk. As it turned out, it was required by the state that I be removed from EVERY ONE of my AP classes and moved into DEVELOPMENTAL classes. I was livid, to say the least! I fought taking these developmental classes for a while, knowing that I was losing out on the education that I deserved. I alone had talked to the teachers, counselors, principals, and even the district board of directors before I finally threatened to take the issue to the state level and beyond. It wasn’t until I had threatened to take this issue to state courts that I was finally put back into my AP courses. I still ended up re-taking the TAKS test, without complaint, and scored a 100%.

    What I mean to introduce with my story is this: the Texas education system was entirely too willing to deprive a student from an education that they had worked for and deserved. Advanced placement courses aren’t for students who are particularly any smarter or more intelligent than any other- I, a perfect example of that, have more than one medically diagnosed learning disabilities. The AP course is a course for students who are willing to put forth more of their hard work and efforts; not be denied of it.

    I wish that it were mandatory for the education system to listen to their students and parents in every aspect and concern, considering that the education system itself is mandatory for all.

    • I absolutely understand your ground. I’m retired now but was an AP Lit and Honors English teacher. When 7th grade TAKS Writing was the priority, my students were ready. Scores came back with 97% passing. I wanted 100% so I asked the counselor who didn’t pass. It was the smartest student in the 7th grade! A closer look revealed he hadn’t written an essay.
      His mom worked at the school so I broke the news to her privately. She told me she was sure he had because he shared what he had written since it involved the time he helped her plant a garden. Finally after calling TEA, we learned the essay was written inside the test booklet on the planning pages but not on the lined response document pages. Mom asked son why. He said the counselor had told the students they were to place their answer document inside the test booklet and they could go to lunch. (12 yr olds are always starving). After lunch their coach took them to play basketball. He asked the coach when he would finish testing and the coach said testing was over for the day. He forgot all about it. It was the counselor’s job to eye every section of the answer docs to make sure every section had been completed and she didn’t! The boy/parents were devastated. The principal asked TEA for an amended re-score and had to pay $$$ for it. His essay score was a 4-the highest rating BUT HIS RECORDS STILL SHOWED FAILURE AND THEY WOULD NOT CHANGE IT.

      • It is the testing monitor, if that be he counselor who cannot take up his test without it being written on the document. TAKS was not timed so not sure why he was not allowed to complete the test after lunch?? Glad it worked out.

      • This is ridiculous…a clear example of how adults failed this child. This is a mistake that we are trained to look for, but standardized testing has become such a dramatic ordeal.

  63. If these tests are too rigorous, then why has my 8th grade national Jr honor society daughter always passed them with flying colors or even commended??????

    • Be thankful you have an extremely gifted child who does well on standardized tests. Your child is the rare exception.

      Have a little compassion for the overwhelming majority of kids who are “normal,” and have a whole lot of compassion for the kids who have special educational needs.

    • Read the paragraph about developmentally inappropriateness. Around 12-14, children develop the ability to BEGIN to do abstract reasoning. At first, they echo. It is a time when IQ scores are volatile, and a few months difference can skew results (5.5 – 7.0 years old is the other one).

      If your kid actually is smart, you’ve had very little to do with that since conception.

      The results reflect genetics. Education theorists and bureaucrats refuse to believe this and thus design tests based on theories with no basis in research. Bad tests. Bright children often figure out how to beat them anyway, but so what? We already knew they were bright. Rigor, back to basics, Common Core, writing process, critical thinking…it’s all crap from people who have no idea which direction an order of causation goes.

      Testing doesn’t have to be complicated. The people who make up tests know this, but they are under political pressure to get the desired results. For example, math questions that girls did worse on were eliminated in the 1980’s, even though the results weren’t that dramatic, and we retain that style. Because at the time, we thought it must mean that the questions were bad.

      Testing is going in increasingly bad directions, even though the professionals know why.

    • I agree both my boys have passed the test everytime…..there’s nothing wrong with the test….maybe if we as parents give our kids…books read and have them study their time tables instead of giving them a tablet to keep them calmed and busy the results would be different….it is ashame how now a days kids are verygood with electronics and and working other gadgets…..nut they. Can’t read at thier level, or do simple math ….we as parents can not leave all the work to the teachers….

      • Candy,

        I’m the site moderator. Please be respectful of other parents on this site.It is VERY insulting to insinuate that other parents are tuned out and allowing their kids to do everything with electronics.

        I am glad your sons have passed every test. Congratulations on having very bright children who also do well on standardized tests. However, only a very small portion of a population can be above-average, and the current tests and TEKS are really hurting the overwhelming majority of kids who are average. It’s especially destructive for children who are ESL or have special learning needs.

    • Candy –

      Did you child speak another language in their home until they were 6, 8 or 13 years old? Because of a lot of Texas students did.

    • You should be grateful your daughter has good test taking skills instead of gloating about her performance and questioning the rigor of the test. From a teacher’s stand point, yes the rigor is high and demanding. Some extremely intelligent students do not pass, just because they do not have good test taking skills. Enough said!

    • Lorena you are very fortunate to have an NJHS student which also means your child must have an average or above average IQ and good test taking skills. As a teacher who spends hours a day tutoring because my 7th graders are now required to complete tasks that were completed by you and I when we were in High School in Algebra 1 the overwhelming concepts atop the test its self makes many students unsuccessful in the test. Students who understand how to deconstruct trick questions and know how to work a problem 10 ways will do good but there are those who are developmentally on track who cannot do those things because they haven’t developed those skills yet and their brains have not reached maturity to even begin to do so. I agree that has to be a measure in which we ensure out children get the best education and are competitive but do not believe we should set kids up for failure. Are you aware that a student who has an iq of 70 is considered mentally deficent is required to take and pass the same test your daughter in NJHS takes because federal funding said a modified version for disabilities is not acceptable reporting? They did create a test called Staar a with some built in accomodation but my child who reads on a 4th grade level is required to answer and understand the same questions you advanced child answers to be promoted all in the name of funding? That my child who is in a 4th grade math level independently is required to demonstrate usage of Algebra 1 skills that many of us barely understood in high school because of funding? I know that you should feel fortunate that your child is different from my child, but I also know as a teacher and parent that because of this my child has electives of supplemental math and supplemental reading to provide intervention and no fun electives because of unreal expectations. She also works 4 days a week after school for at least an hour before we leave school in math and science and another 45 mins to an hour at home on reading. So as a parent and teacher I’m doing my part but am confident that she’s going to feel like a failure when she takes the STAAR because it’s not appropriate. So before you make blanket statements look around realize how fortunate you are but try to understand that your child is an exception not the rule as is mine but all the kids in between will vary in their abilities and development but we require them all to completed the exact same task without regards to the detriment to causes in self esteem and success in future education.

  64. The schools are pushed to meet testing criteria. If school testing is good the funding is too. It’s sad the kids are the ones that suffer yearly. It’s not fair. The system needs to change.

  65. I have read comments about teachers being lazy as the reason our kids are not passing the STAAR test. As a teacher of 16 years ( in the same school), that offends me. I have seen my school change from an exemplary school to recognized in the last 3 years. Budget cuts have forced our school to get ride of compensatory teachers to help those struggling kids. Compensatory teachers really helped by pulling the bottom 10-20% into small groups during reading and math. Our school used to have separate teachers for special Ed in each grade level. Not any more thanks to budget cuts. I teach 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade special education with over 40 students at one time. I’m given 1 aide to help me individualize for each student. I used to teach 3rd grade only special Ed with 6 kids and an aide. I do not get a conference time as my grade level colleagues do. Most of the time during my lunch, I’m tutoring kids. This year, my 16 third graders came to me as kindergarten and 1st grade readers, and nearly all came on a kindergarten math level. Only 6 of these students had been in our district since Kindergarten and the other 10 moved into the district in 2nd grade at various times. Not only do I have students with just learning disabilities, I have kids with ADHD (most not medicated), emotional disturbances, and no long term and short term memory. Now instead of just 6 kids to focus on, I have 40 in 3 different grade levels. I teach kindergarten through 5th grade TEKS. I work non stop for these kids. I tutor after school 1 on 1 with students Monday-Friday until 3:45. Only then do I sit down to look at my students independent work. I’m constantly re-thinking my lesson plans. Most days I do not leave school until 6pm. My district requires I send home progress reports every three weeks. These are not progress reports that just have a grade. They are 4 pages per student explaining all mods and accommodations I’ve used. It explains in detail how they are fairing towards their IEP goals. It takes me 1 hour per student to fill them out. Weekends are me sitting in my classroom (and feeling guilt for not being there for my 3 children) preparing work for all levels of the multiple intelligences since my students learn in various ways. I’ve never had a student fail the Modified TAKS or STAAR. I fear that this year all of my 3rd and 4th graders will fail with not having the modified test. My 5th graders will be half and half. They are just not mentally ready. I base this off of our benchmarks that we are not allowed to call benchmarks every 6 weeks. I believe in tests and wish that my students could take something developmentally appropriate for their specific disability. Every year I say this will be my last because I feel that I am not doing enough for my students. I do take it personally when my students do not pass a test. It has to be my fault since I’m their teacher. I have my resignation letter already typed if the majority of my students fail this year. I love my students and career but cannot continue to ignore the unfairness brought forth on my students.

    • Your are doing an awesome no. With those students I’d be blessed to have u a as a teacher for my kids… Parents need to show more support to teachers in general… Keep up the good work

    • MP – It is ridiculous that the TEA commissioner blames teachers for results on a test that has never been independently validated and that the TEA prohibits teachers from seeing the student’s test papers or even discussing the test with them.

      It’s like blaming the HEB cashier because a poor family doesn’t have enough groceries.

    • You are doing amazing job and I completely understand how you feel!!! I taught special education math for 6-8 graders for one year and went through everything you have been going through. Unfortunately, I resigned after my first year of teaching and can’t even imagine enduring all that for 16 years. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt for not being available to my infant son and preadolescent daughter because as a single parent, I am all they have and I missed them dearly. I was beginning to feel like the non-custodial parent and that’s just not right. I had to make a choice between my family and my career, and I chose my family for obvious reasons. I am currently pursuing a graduate degree in social work and honestly do not want anything to do with the public education system. I learned A LOT about the way things work in public schools and don’t feel confident that things will change any time soon. Best of luck to you in your career.

    • I cried havoc and let loose the dogs of war. That is…I said enough was enough and I no longer taught. I didn’t QUIT…quitting is giving up. I said proudly that I was too valuable to be wasted like I was ordered to in my job as a teacher. I adore my career, too. I am really fabulous in it. What a shame that there is no demand for me because I will teach, not torture kids.
      I began teaching in 1988. Some of my former students are in their thirties and at least 100 are on my facebook. I teach their kids as I did them. ..just online instead of face to face.
      I have very little income but it is worth eating Ramen than teaching in a Texas school. What a sad story.

    • Kim, that is a great idea!!! It might take a few years, but I’m going to find out how we can make this a reality… Parents deserve someone to fight for us too!

  66. Give us a nationally standardized test and quit making Pearson billionaires. Of course they want low scores. We pay per child per test so they make more money on retests. Let’s not forget that the reason we have STAAR is because Texas rose to over 90% on all kids on TABS, TAAS, and TAKS. We were doing pretty good on STAAR when the TEA and Pearson decided we needed to increase the rigor! Compare our SAT scores. Give the CAT or ITBS one time and see where we stand nationally. Then tell us how bad Texas schools are doing. Do you realize that Jeb Bush was on the board of directors of Pearson until last month? Yes, Florida uses Pearson making their state assessments as well. On top of all the regular ed kids testing add the ridiculousness of holding special Ed students who have formalized testing telling us they are two or more grade levels bellowed their enrolled grade to qualify for special education accountable for grade level assessment at the same level as their non disabled peers. It’s a shame we are spending so much money and energy making kids feel they aren’t good enough instead of encouraging and motivating them!!! Thanks for asking, from a Special Education Director

  67. I think it’s an insult and a racket and a damn shame. Math is fun, especially at the early levels, because it has clean answers. I see a generation that not only isn’t being TAUGHT, but being set up to be victimized. If you gave a shit, you would teach them the tables. Since you dont, it’s ok that for the first time in decades, most kids don’t know math tables. They will be the adults you use. Not for my girl.

  68. Who said the politicians in Austin are interested in public education? Of course they won’t send their sons, daughters, grandchildren, etc. to a public school. They just do not care because they know they will be voted and elected over and over. Public education is just a huge business, I remember when TAKS was changed to STAAR, it was made in one of the most challenging economic years, there was no money for schools, teachers, school materials, etc… what was the urgency for such a change? How much did it cost to make a whole new test? What companies were involved in it? Are any of these companies related to any given Austin politician? A friend of friend of a friend….? I have 12 years teaching bilingual education in Texas and all I can tell you is after this long time, education has not only been improved, it is going down the hill.

  69. As a student of both TAKS and STARR, I found all these tests as insignificant as a pile of dirt. You get grinded day after day, tested and retested, and all for a scan tron that you turn into a teacher in a silent room full of stressesd out classmates. And once the “test” is over with all “learning” stops. Teachers don’t know what to teach their students anymore. Now as a high school senior, free from these stupid tests that serve no purpose, I see the same look in all my teachers eyes that I saw in every teachers eyes after the TAKS or STARR. Only my AP teachers still strive for something, and they’ve seen us worn out from all these mandated tests, it makes them sick! Literally! I’ve seen my teachers age as the year goes on then once the “testing season” is over they suddenly seem alive again. From the perspective as a student, I can tell yall no matter what yall decide on after all this useless bickering, students have been raised now in a culture of constant test taking and to change that would not only mess with your kids but also mess with the whole education system that we as students have become accustomed to. I’m not one to write much but on this subject I say Texas doesn’t raise stupid students, it raises a culture that isn’t Texan or American for that matter. In my belief students need something to strive for and something their teachers can guide them to without causing stress for either party. What that is I don’t know nor do I want to know, education is advancing, but let kids be kids and let their minds not be stuck on a test at the end of the school year for 13 years like I did. Just a small vent, but please don’t use this post as a throw away statement made from a stupid kid that doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  70. Leave it to politithis to mess it all up! My kids get so nervous before the exams and come home demoralized & crying when they see their scores. The whole schools curriculum Is geared up for this freak’n test! All Austin cares about are numbers! They don’t see or could care less if our kids have learned anything! I say to hell with it! I want my kids to learn at their own pace. Not push them into learning two grades higher than they’re in!!! Not all kids learn at the same pace! Now if a parent or a teacher has a problem interpreting the exam, what make you think a child would be able to?! Shame on Austin for forcing our kids to think that they are dumb. You people up in Austin should reconsider and review the test. More rigorous tests is not the answer. Get off your fat behinds and do your freak’n jobs!!! HELP THE KIDS!!! NOT YOUR NUMBERS!!!

  71. My parents, grandmother, great grandmother plus a few other generations back were all teachers. As a kid all I wanted to do is be a teacher. After 6 years of college I graduated with a double major: Biology and Agriculture, I decided about a year later to go back and get my certification. I wanted to take my love for science and spread that to kids and especially to show girls that they are smart enough for science classes. After going to college for 2 more years to get certified, I obtained my certification for general education first – eighth grade and science for fourth – eighth grade. I did this at the time the TEKS was just starting and I did a lot of substitute teaching. I observed how much time seasoned teachers spent preparing for the next day/week and that they did it for the kids and their love of teaching. Once the “state tests” became the “thing”, I noticed how much more time teachers spent preparing and learning how the test asked questions so they could guide the kids. And it never seemed like enough no matter how long they worked. After a few years of substituting, I happened to be subbing when the kids were being prepped for “the test” and I decided I would take the practice test with them. It was eighth grade reading–I left that day feeling that I was dumber than some eighth graders. The kids told me that there could be 2 right answers but one would be more right than the other. The questions were hard to understand and some of them required you to make assumptions/read between the lines. It was awful–the was always two answers that were so off the wall and two answers that could be right depending on how you interpret the question.
    My daughter was in the first class that had to pass “the test” in order to go to the next grade. she stressed so much about the test, that the janitor found her hiding in the bathroom because she had had an accident, due to the stress level. Shortly after this, she was diagnosed as dyslexic. She had hours of homework every night. The next few years she was allowed to test in a small class setting and questions and answer choices could be read to her except for reading—duh, dyslexic = difficulty with reading therefor difficulty with comprehension = low scores on reading test. But if a passage was read to her she could do well. This never made sense to me and she would pass by 1 or 2 questions. Then when they had to write the essay, she just scraped by again. Now that she is in college, she still cannot write an essay and had to take a remedial English class to help her learn how to write an essay. I believe that this was totally because her English/Reading teachers couldn’t teach the kids how to write a proper essay but how to write one that would suffice the graders of the test.
    My son who is also dyslexic is no longer allowed to take the modified test but can have a little more time to take the STAAR than regular students. But once again math, science, social studies can be read to him but not the reading. I don’t understand except they want these kids to fail and feel like failures the rest of their lives. Mom spends her time telling them that test doesn’t mean they aren’t smart as long as they do their very best.
    My thoughts for a very long time now is that each state representative have to pass the Reading and one on Texas history. If they don’t pass, they don’t get to stay in Austin. Also, their children/grandchildren have to attend PUBLIC school and take the test. I love small town living and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but we don’t have the luxury of private school (nearest private school is 35 miles away) only homeschool. I feel that homeschool robs the kids of essential social skills that they need–like getting along with others and how to resolve differences. My husband and I do not think that our kids are any smarter than we were 30 years ago, only more stressed and tested.

  72. I would like to invite any politician or legislator to come sit in my classroom for a week. Maybe at that point they could see all that encompasses teaching….not just “rigorous curriculum that teaches only to the test and not to life.”

  73. Bob Ralph
    December 23, 2014 at 11:51am · Denton, TX ·
    Last night I began watching videos of “The Messenger Lectures”, given at Cornell in 1964, in which Richard Feynman explains basic topics in physics. Feynman’s lectures became so popular that they were attended not only by throngs of physics students but also their professors. His lectures have long been standard reading for physics students as well as those with a general interest in the topic. What has struck me as curious is that the content of the lectures designed for undergraduate physics students of the 1960s is essentially the same content that I teach to twelve and thirteen year old eighth grade students today. This “content creep” spurs an avalanche of questions not the least of which are How and Why, over the span of fifty years or so, has it become necessary for students teetering on the boundary between childhood and adolescence to have a mastery of this material? One clue might be found in Feynman’s introduction to “Atoms in Motion” where he writes, “This two-year course in physics is presented from the point of view that you, the reader, are going to be a physicist. This is not necessarily the case of course, but that is what every professor in every subject assumes! If you are going to be a physicist, you will have a lot to study: two hundred years of the most rapidly developing field of knowledge that there is. So much knowledge, in fact, that you might think that you cannot learn all of it in four years, and truly you cannot; you will have to go to graduate school too!” So, part of the answer to my questions of How and Why might be that there is so much knowledge to be learned that students must begin learning the fundamentals earlier and earlier in order to master the subject and be prepared for the university. All well and good, but Feynman begins his introduction with the assumption that the reader is going to be physicist. My students vacillate between wanting to be a pirate and a “computer-something”. It is sobering to think that in my class of rumpled, unwashed faces and silly middle school antics, sits one of the 21st century’s greatest theoretical physicists. It is true that at the age of 15 Feynman taught himself trigonometry, advanced algebra, infinite series, analytic geometry, and both differential and integral calculus and was well on his way to laying the foundation for his career as a theoretical physicist but what are the odds that there is a “Feynman” sitting in my class? I had better up my game just in case. However the answer “because there is so much to learn”, derived from Feynman’s introduction, seems to be rather a thin and incomplete explanation to the How and Why of the “content creep”. I think that I must leave the world of physics for awhile and search else ware for another piece of the puzzle. A quote from Sir Ken Robinson leaps to mind. “What is education for? Who succeeds? Who are the winners? The purpose is to produce university academics. The whole system is predicated on academic ability, a protracted process of University entrance.” Now things are beginning to clear up a bit. If the purpose of education is to produce university academics then we really cannot start teaching the fundamentals of language arts, mathematics and sciences early enough on the chance that a few of our students will go on to successful academic careers. But this approach seems to leave a lot on the cutting room floor. What are we doing for/to the students who will not pursue an academic career? Is insisting that they master the content required for a good academic foundation preparing them for their future? Perhaps, but again to Sir Ken…“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.” I direct your attention to the earlier part of this writing where I noted that Feynman, at the age of 15, “taught himself…” He wanted to learn, he was discovering his true passion. When we measure all our children with the same yardstick of advanced academic success we doom so many of them to a learning experience full of failure and frustration and deprive them of the experiences of success and achievement. Do they need to learn to read, do math, and understand basic science, of course they do, but do they need mastery of 1960’s university level content at 13 years of age? Perhaps some do, if it is their passion, but my job as a teacher is to guide all of my students to discover their passions and instill in them a love of learning. I fear that in trying to answer my initial questions I have uncovered so many more, but hey, that’s what I love about learning

    • Bob. I think this is right on point. The accumulaton of knowledge of things has obviously reached a point where policy makers, pundits, academics, and of course the BIG SELL by some of the largest government contractors in the world leaves the decision makers to believe that there is only one solution – ‘pushed down curriculum’ as i’ve heared it named.

      This is no less a rationalization in society than capitalism (think Weber here). And all of the many thoughts on the new world education has just as many facades and cheats as the free market. Politicians isuing statements about US competitiveness in the world marketplace and the unbelievable tidal wave of extracting STEM ‘blood’ out of every child in the wake of political knee jerkedness in education will eventually shoot us dead in the water.

      Education, for lack of a better ethic, has evolved more from the institiution for learning, inspiration, and enlightenment to something akin to puppy mills. That is, we’ve rationalized education down to a work force producing factory as the ultimate goal. We will lose if we hold on to this ethic.

      Learning is messy, and for many many currently measurable and unmeasurable reasons. Yet evidence-based guidance on ways to assist learning in such a dynamic way, as it should be, has been supplanted by oddly developed standardized testing batteries. And they are developed by the same monopolistic companies who produce some lf the curriculum and publish all of the literature and media.

      Those companies have huge dogs in this hunt, which makes it all the more difficult to build a better educational, or better, intellectually stimulating and evolving environment. But to leave them the reigns, and the reigns to public figures who haven’t the first ounce of experience in the academic sphere (but always seem to be ‘expert’), i am convinced we will eventually strip every essential fiber out of the experience of learning. I can but imagine the larger social consequences of that.

      Though i’m ranting on a more global problem as i perceive it, the staar and this sort of educational rigidity that it and like systems induce are in my opinion a series of summary slaps in the face to every teacher, parent, and student who have ever cared deeply about their life of learning.

  74. I was a public school teacher in Texas before having children. My children do not and will not go to public school and my #1 reason is the test…EVERYTHING about it from the way teachers feel they have to prepare students for it to the way it is administered. I have horrible stories about the stress this puts on students as well as even more horrible stories about things administrators would advise teachers to do to increase our passing rates. It’s absolutely disgusting!

  75. All teachers took test and measurements… If a large number of students miss a question …. Must be a bad question…. When will TEXAS legislators realize that to test students on test that have been taught differently across the state is absoluty doing nothing but sitting students up for failure… If you want success teach and test the material the way it was presented… No standardized question is fair !!!

  76. Its crazy because I know my son is really smart and I’m not just saying that he was tested. But he gets scared when he hears the word test. I’m sorry what happens to kinder and first grade prepend play I mean you walk into a kinder room now nothing like when I went in the 80’s and even more so when my husband went in the 70’s I mean really. What was wrong with the way we were doing things in the 50’s and 60’s they didn’t have state testing like this. But guess what ppl were still becoming doctors and lawyers they found themself as they grow up. Now my son is in 4th grade but when he was in kinder they wanted him to come in and pretty much sit while in the class room no playing outside but for 30 mins a day during pe I am like are you kidding me.

  77. …and to think we are doing this to our children and paying a company (Pearson) from another country millions and millions of dollars to make a test up for our American students! Government is clueless of how the schools are and will never know until they get into the schools. Ridiculous!

  78. I totally agree.with the author. You barely touched on it but low functioning students now are required to take the same test and pass to graduate. This means a student with a 65 to 75 IQ and a second to third grade reading level take the same test. In who’s world is this fair?

    • Exactly!! Everyone, from the lowest functioning SPED student to the top ranked students take the same test. Even the English language learners take the same test – in English. The system is broken and must be fixed!!

  79. I don’t like standardized tests in general but one thing I do like about the STAAR is that it is challenging the kids to start developing reasoning skills. I find as an adult that most adults I encounter can’t do this, and I blame education focused on memorization rather than thinking based education. I am *glad* my kids are getting exposed to critical thinking earlier though I would prefer that they not gate promotion to the next grade based on it when they didn’t start early enough for kids to really get the hang of it.

    For what it’s worth, I had no trouble at all figuring out what the STAAR questions were asking when I helped my 5th grader last year study for the vast majority of questions. Decent reading comprehension skills were sufficient.

    Standardized tests are full of problems, don’t get me wrong, but continuing to have low standards for the curriculum is not the solution. I’d rather they keep teaching critical thinking in a less formalized way and dump the STAAR tests.

  80. And they wonder even more with our second language learners that compose a large population in Texas. They are set for failure. No child left behind and Rick Perry are the beginning culprits and then you get sick principals that make their teachers so fed up with nothing more than data desegregation where they could not even teach the class themselves. Teachers leaving Texas profession. I was one and refused to be evaluated on scores and see my parents asking me why I left. How sad!!!!

  81. I had a friend who’s daughter is #1 in her class and she was upset over how hard the test was. It is a nightmare and all these people are doing is making our children feel stupid and making our teachers work even harder. I am having to relearn math to help my kindergartner with her homework. Yes I said it. In kindergarten, my daughter has homework and lots of it. Why don’t they let teachers go back to teaching our students instead if teaching this garbage. No wonder why we are behind as a state and even as a country. I think we need to reevaluate this situation instead of letting congress, senators determine what our children needs to learn when I’m sure theirs is exempt from it.

  82. I personally think that every official voting to pass these test should have to take them just as they expect the students to do before signing them in. Who thinks putting children in a morgue setting, no bathroom breaks or talking for hours is a good idea. I think they are the stupid ones. How can someone making decisions on “a better tomorrow” & “to help the children” even consider some of what is happening. If “we” needed to break a spirt and have children feel horrible about themselves, then “they” are really doing a great job. How have we parents let this happen & How do we fix it. Most teacher I know hate all the paperwork that has come into play and the number of hours on wasted information that has nothing to do with the subject being taught. How can a group of adults decide to cram two years of high grades onto children that are struggling as it is? Maybe I’m just a stupid housewife but I hope we figure this out soon. I am tired of watching my children doubt themselves over stupid government BS that has been inflicted. Why basic skills are removed, who knows. I guess handwriting is no longer needed.

  83. Standardized tests are about business, not education. A test designed to fail 40% of students consistently is better for their business than one which only fails ten. Think about it, Texas, if they still even teach critical thinking down there anymore.

    • Wow! I am a former fourth grade language arts teacher. I can guarantee that we teach critical thinking! We are well aware of the political bs that helps companies like Pearson earn their fortune! No need to throw daggers and be condescending like we are a bunch of dumbass rednecks “down here”. This comment sounds like something from a judgmental ass!

  84. I think Texans will rue the vote last November bvy voting Dannie Scott Goeb into office. Dan Patrick is the most scary politician in office. Patrick is dead-set on taking down the school funding system by working to increasing charter schools across Texas. Moving public school funding from the public sector to the private sector has not proven beneficial, but has proven a financial boon for patricks closest friends.
    The Texas TEA Party advocate for the abolition of the Federal Reserve, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Transportation Security Administration and the Departments of Education.

  85. It bothers me to the core of my English teacher soul that students can pass the English I and II STAAR exams without writing an acceptable essay (and in some cases, not writing one at all!), and yet we give them a passing score and call them college ready? Something is very wrong with this.

  86. I am a young (22 years old) & driven teacher. My mom has taught for 20 years & siblings are teachers as well. This is my second year teaching Bilingual Special Ed. Resource, first & only of my large suburban Houston district to have the bilingual sped title. I worked at an autism clinic prior to teaching.

    STAAR modified has been replaced with STAAR accommodated, which includes it’s pretty cool computer feautures, but is the same test “typical” students will be taking & some of my students would still be better off with our past modified.

    I have gotten students to pass modified with a commended performance & are ready to try out the regular STAAR.

    There are MANY teachers who work hard, but unfortunately there are MANY (MORE in my opinion) who don’t. So I believe, yes, if we, as teachers put in the effort, we can make progress, especially with our gen. ed. population.

    However, I also agree to some extent that STAAR tests are poorly made & could use some improvements. I have a degree in psychology & yes, students need to be developmentally prepared for some of these skills that are expected of them. But that can’t be too much of an excuse since I see that many students aren’t being pushed to their full potential.

    We should also teach our students that STAAR results aren’t everything. It is also our job as educators to build their self esteem.. I agree with someone else who commented, we too make it a bigger deal & the students pick up the negativity.

    All that being said, the public school system (especially special education) needs a major makeover, as many of us can agree has needed for a very long time. I forcefully spend much more time worrying about laws & getting paperwork up to TEA requirements to pass audits than I do planning & teaching my students.

    I graduate in August with a masters in ABA, so I won’t be serving the system for more than 2 more years. My services & dedication can be of better use elsewhere, hopefully my own private facility in the future. I do what I can for now.

    • Spoken like someone with limited teaching experience and no desire to stay in the system. Come back again when you have at least ten years of experience. I have 19, work my butt off, and cry every single year over children how gave it there best, made tremendous growth, and didn’t pass. Your mom’s 20 years of teaching experience isn’t yours. Spend some time in the trenches and see if your opinion still holds.

  87. Testing is needed, but multiple choice tests are NOT a good method of testing for understanding. Life is not multiple choice. People in real life are not presented with four choices to solve their problems in life. In over 20 years as a teacher I saw this happenning more and more often- Many students who test today don’t even try to solve the problems. Instead of reading the problem and trying to solve it, and then look for the answer that matches their work; they look at the answers and then try to find a formula from a formula chart whose solution matches one of the answers. They will put this answer down, even though in many cases, it obviously is incorrect. It is of concern that many schools spend as much time teaching test-taking tricks as they do teaching curriculum. They develop test-taking strategy cards that they demand the kids know how to use (even taking points off of practice tests if they do not use the cards).

  88. Katie is right. These standardized tests have bred an industry. Companies are now making millions of dollars on selling test prep materials to districts, and millions more selling the actual test. It is not about the kids.

  89. The whole testing system is a ridiculous mess – from the fed crap to the state! Kids that make great grades and honor roll don’t always pass the stupid tests. It ruins there self esteem and makes them physically sick to think they have to take it again. One of my daughters has horrible test anxiety and is still dealing with it in college. Back in 3rd grade, her standardized test scores were below the average and she felt she was dumb, even though she was on the honor roll and made all A’s on homework and daily work. That feeling stayed with her, even though her principal, at that time, tore the test up and threw it away, thank goodness for him and his wisdom. Children and teacher’s lives should never be based on some stupid test made up by people who don’t know what the heck they are doing or don’t remember ever being in a classroom. These tests are ridiculously hard and have things on them that aren’t even taught at the grade level these tests refer to. And has anyone noticed that there’s just one company that prints and sells these tests? Talk about a money making deal! I’m sure Peason has their hands in every congressman’s pocket both at the state level and fed level. They for sure don’t want the testing era to end. We, as parents, have got to stand up and fight the whole test attitude. There are better ways to track a students progress! A bunch of overpaid people trying to justify their jobs and keep their big ole checks coming to their pockets shouldn’t be dictating anything. Let them take the test and we will base their pay on their scores.

  90. It is no wonder by the time kids graduate college they have heart conditions, ulcers.
    Mental disorders. They entire school years are full of stress. The #1 advice dr’s give us is lower stress. Maybe instead of worry about how smart we are, or what we eat maybe teaching lower stress strategies. This is not teachers fault. Government not staying in political matters!!!!

  91. Is there is any kind of “joint effort” campaign to address our representatives on this issue? An online petition or group lobbying to our reps? I’ve been trying to find something online to help get something done regarding these new math TEKS and the STAAR tests. I have a 3rd grader really struggling with this math, the word problems are just over her head! She can’t comprehend what the questions are asking and sometimes I can’t either, and I was a math guru! She is not slow, but an average student. I hate to see her love and excitement for school being beat down!

  92. Parent have the right to opt their kids out of taking the standardized tests! If more parents exercised that right it would send a message that we are tired of our kids being tested to death. It’s time to jet teachers teach instead of testing students to generate data to keep the suits employed.

    • We really don’t have that “right.” Many parents tried last year, and while many were successful, others faced HUGE messes from their schools and school boards, especially if their kids were in one of the promotion years.

      High school students have absolutely NO CHOICE but to take and pass the FIVE tests. It is a requirement for graduation. No way around it unless you decide to homeschool or go private.

  93. I think it is ridiculous. My son comes up to me and tells me” what is the point of passing my classes? If I don’t pass the staar test I don’t graduate anyways. So why even bother. Mom I have never passed one of those tests and I never will “It broke my heart

    • The other side of it is just as bad. I have students (high school) who make minimal effort because they have been trained that, if they fail, they get moved to the next grade anyway. They have an attitude of, “it doesn’t matter if I pass the class as long as I pass the STAAR.” Then they are surprised and indignant when they have to repeat the course for credit to graduate. Unfortunately, that’s a two-sided sword. If they aren’t concerned with trying to pass the course, they often don’t absorb enough to pass the test – even at a 37% passing rate.

  94. I worked in the Lubbock Independent Scool District and New Deal Schools. This is absolutely uncalled for!!!! Why does the TEA think they have to go over the teachers teachings and give their tests that they probably can’t even pass. It is absolutely ridiculous!!!! Let our Texas teachers do their jobs and you do yours and quit making our kids and grandkids think they are stupid!!!! Totally unfathomable!!!! You people are supposed to be advocates for our children and Teachers!!! DO YOUR JOB AND LEAVE OUR TEACHERS AND KIDS TO WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO!!!!!!!! RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!

  95. I am all for raising the standards. Everyone else in the world learns algebra in the six grade. That said, I do agree that there’s something wrong with the test.

    • Nope, it’s top secret. Seriously.
      Parents aren’t even allowed to see their kids scored tests.
      You can find a few “sample questions” on the Texas Education Agency’s website.

    • There are released tests on the TEA website. Just google “Released STAAR tests”. These are the tests given, but the children have an additional passage for reading and questions that are field test items.

    • Yes, the TEA website. You can access released tests, but the math released tests are not worth your time. I teach 5th and we have new TEKS. I am teaching two sets of TEKs this year to try to catch these kiddos up. I feel like a failure and so do the kids. Especially when I’m teaching what used to be an 8th grade TEK. That is teaching an 11 year old what a 15 year old used to be taught. Obviously, it won’t be on the same level of understanding.

      • Leslie
        I teach at my neighborhood home campus around the corner from my house. My grandchildren and their friends go there. My children went there. Obviously I am very invested in this campus as a TEACHER and PARENT/GRANDPARENT in ensuring these students do well in ALL facets of their educational journeys!

        With that said, my 6th grade grandson is having to learn what has been the 6th math TEKS as well as the 7th grade TEKS due to changes at the state level that dropped 7th TEKS to 6th grade. So two years in one year with a sum total of 45 minutes a day for math. My granddaughter is currently taking pre-Alg as a 7th grader so that she will be able to take Algebra 1 next year as an 8th grader in preparation for applying to the Early-College Campus Program as a 9th grader. So for her this year, she is dealing with already jumping a year in math to 8th grade work which means she is learning 7th and 8th TEKS together but ALSO has an extra year of TEKS due to the 9th grade TEKS being dropped to the 8th grade level. She has a WONDERFUL teacher who busts her butt teaching my granddaughter and her classmates but imagine being that teacher who has to crunch 3 years of TEKS objectives into one school year with, again, only 45 min of class per day!! Her teacher just told me yesterday that my granddaughter didn’t pass STAAR math but that many of her classmates didn’t either. Which is the first year ever she has not passed any of the tests! She felt it was her fault and she was too stupid to get it. And her teacher felt it was HER fault because she didn’t have enough time to cram those three years of instruction one year. Which makes me very angry that a wonderful teacher feels this way and I know, without a doubt, that she is an excellent teacher because we did math tutoring after school together!! The kids now feel bad, the teacher feels bad and I feel VERY ANGRY with the system in general that causes this state of affairs.

        I teach special Ed students with emotional disturbances as well as some with learning disabilities. As others have mentioned here, I see special education students with some serious deficits who are required to take the exact same grade level tests as regular Ed students with some accommodations but they are still totally lost and confused.

        I had some students who acted out due to their ED issues, stomped out the testing room, tried to invalidate test scores by refusing to follow testing protocols and then, upon deciding to test properly, took a 62 question STAAR Math test in ELEVEN MINUTES!

        And the state of Texas says MY TEACHING EVALUATION is tied to that student’s test scores! My friend, the math teacher, her teaching evaluation is tied to test scores of her students who the state TEKS requirements of this year require her to cram 7th, 8th, & 9th TEKS in one year of instruction!! Do we see the wrongness in these scenarios?!

        We love what we do but the state and federal governments and the politicians DO NOT want passionate, engaged teachers working with our students! They want minimum wage hourly workers who teach testing skills and how to use devices to find info for instruction. TEACHING, MENTORING, ROLE-MODELING-it’s all left out of this current national educational agenda!!!

    • Certain tests have been released to the public after the tests were administered. Hopefully this link will take you to the page on the Texas Education Agency’s website which contains links to all the released tests.

      If this link doesn’t work, go to Then go to Student Testing and Accountability, then under Testing, go to State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).

      The tests are there in their entirety.

  96. TX has enemies within who are helping the progressives dumb down the state and take it out of healthy competition. Reject testing. It has fed money attached. Austin has a California umbilical cord.

  97. I ca agree w this..not for any reasons having to do w myself having any kids but more less as a student. A recent college grad that happened across this pg from my aunts fb pg. I myself am from Louisiana and really just wanted to comment more than anything I feel that is worse than this, is from what I’ve noticed about schools more and more is the notion and concept of how creativity in the classroom even in elementary schools is being pushed and shoven more and more out over the last 10 yrs. That’s something that bothers me more than anything is to have creativity and innovation in the classroom being more and more dismissed to a more rigorous routine schedule where it is our creativity that has gotten us this far with technology to be able to communicate on a 3″ by 5″ hand held screen. I personally feel it will keep being utilized less and less over the next decade to a point where our kids will be taught to learn more as like a robot than ab individual that learns and processes information at each’s own particular time. I’m not a parent yet but for the parents that do care about what is being taught and how,, I ask each of you to watch out more for this problem in the classroom because it is a problem. The majority of my college professors most had their PhD and most were very almost robotic in their notions in thinking they knew it all.. And truth is we don’t know anything. It’s our acceptance of this along with our creativity and innovative ideas that keep us evolving. Make sure your teachers feel the same way as you should about what it means to allow creativity to take place in the classroom

  98. Just be thankful that Texas does not have common core. My child came to Louisiana schools this year & it is horrible. He went from making A & B’s to C & D’s. He hates school now.
    We spend hours every night trying to do homework that neither of us understand. And I graduated with honors!! I am not stupid!! But this curriculum will make you feel stupid very quickly! ! Why can’t we just have classed like we had? Aren’t we the smart people that has brought the world of technology where it is today? ( or, maybe we weren’t so smart after all)

    • Where do you live that Texas schools haven’t adopted Common Core? All our area schools (north of the DFW Metroplex) have adopted it, sadly.

      • It is not adopted in Texas. Texas TEKS, in most grade levels, are very closely aligned common core. If they are teaching common core it is against the law, yes there is a law! Texas, generally, does not follow the rest of the country in education.

    • We don’t have “common core” BUT that hasn’t stopped it from spreading here. My son brought home a worksheet yesterday from The sad thing is that he is in advanced math in 6th grade and he completely understands the math part…it’s the visual part (the whole common core part) that is bringing his grades down. I made an appointment to see the teacher. If I see one more sheet that says common core on it, I’m pulling them out and homeschooling them.

    • Look at Texas state standards next to CCSS. They are virtually the same. Rick Perry make a political stance against Common Core, then adopted it under a new name six months later. It’s all politics. Make sure you do your research (beyond mass media news) 🙂

  99. I’m a substitute for my school district, and I agree 100% of the problem with the academic levels that the state is imposing on our kids. One major problem in the area that I sub is the fact that this one school has a large number of children from our southern neighbors. They CANNOT read or write in English and this has a strong effect on the teacher’s goal. This certain school has scored poorly in the last 3 years in STARR grades. One more thing about this system. My grandson took his teat when in the 4th grade, and the results were not to promising. I usually read information thoroughly, and noticed that in math measurements he did extra poorly. A day later I went over the results again and found that this was NOT his test. The name was the same, but his ID number was a digit off and he was suppose to be 15years of age. I brought it to the administration’s attention and asked for an investigation on the crossover. The lady apologized and said it would be looked into and my grandson would not be detained for summer school. I never received his proper score, and this makes me wonder how many children are being done the same. Parents NEED to carefully read these scores and approach the school system if any are found! PLEASE pass this on and if you still have last year’s results, check for errors. Thank you–

  100. My son came to Texas as a senior in high school. The first thing the STUDENTS told him was, OHHHH you have to take “THE TESTS” in order to graduate and you probably will fail them! Having been educated in CT for 11 years (failing 10th grade English one time, and having to take both 11th and 12th grade English in Texas) he was stricken by panic. Now why would students tell him that. They themselves were fearful! He was a nervous wreck about school until he took the tests and passed with very high percentages in all subjects. His comment: Those tests were mickey mouse!!! (By the way his two English teachers told us he could have taught both courses.) There is something terribly wrong with this picture. Teachers should just teach! The tests will be passed if material is just presented so students understand the material, like in the “olden days”! We had been familiar with California Achievement Tests (1963 norms) which were used for many years. There is something terribly wrong when norms slip!!! and THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING COMPARED TO STUDENTS ACROSS THE NATION! Texas should join the union!

    By the way, we find it truly amazing how much the UIL influences public schools in Texas (i.e., football in particular)! Football players have twice the time practicing football during the school day (athletic period last period and on until 6:00!) If emphasis was placed on academics rather than what should be “extra-curricular” during the school day, perhaps things would be different. (In other states, “:extra curricular” really means “after school”!!!

    • Was the test your son took the STAAR, TAKS, or TAAS? If TAAS, then yes – it was “Mickey Mouse.” If TAKS, then it was a couple of steps up on rigor. If STAAR, then… There are some comparisons of the three tests floating around on the Internet and the sample questions are very interesting. Questions that used to be on TAAS at high school level are now on the elementary STAAR test.

    • Gherlaine, you say “Teachers should just teach! The tests will be passed if material is just presented so students understand the material, like in the “olden days”!

      It is CRITICAL that as a voter, you understand that these are not the tests of the olden days – anything before No Child Left Behind (2003) was vastly different. The post-NCLB tests, sadly, measure test-taking skills more than they measure the content the students learn in class – they completely lack construct validity and most of the test items should be thrown out. There’s research to back this up, but due to the power of the testing industry lobby, the decision-makers don’t give a hoot what actual research says.

      As it stands, teachers can teach the materials and students can study the materials until they turn blue, and it won’t help the overall test scores – they have been proven to be around 70% insensitive to instruction, meaning that teachers can only really have an impact on less than 30% of the total score.

    • Yes. It ALL goes back to No Child Left Behind. The federal government REQUIRES all states to have some form of accountability (testing) system in place. They are the ones that have even said that you cannot give special Ed students a test based on a modified curriculum….

  101. Couldn’t agree more. Even worse, this year there will not be a modified STAAR test for students who are in Special Ed and have significant learning deficiencies. Teachers will are required to make accommodations to the students work all year but when it’s time to take the test, they will take the same test as all students. That just doesn’t make sense!

  102. As a teacher I have a big problem requiring kids to do a task that come with instructions on what to do when the child vomits on the test. By the way it is NOT ” throw it away”

  103. I believe the fellow’s point is that STAAR is Common Core in all but name, thus subject to the same criticisms that Common Core is subject to.

  104. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that at least half of the children in Texas are below average, as well as half of the teachers.

    Which ones?

    As long as you make the public pay for it, the answer to that question is the public’s business.

    • Mr. Jones. I would pretty much agree with you about half of the students are below average, but that’s because they are taught at such a rapid speed to prepare for a test, that they leave out the important things we learned in school. My school years were from 1970-82. Today, my students can’t tell time on an analog clock because they aren’t taught that as much as we were, they cannot read or write cursive because it was taken off the curriculum, and they are advanced through math so fast they do not know the multiplication table, short or long division. And as for teachers, I am one. I’ve seen the good and the bad, and I must say that the good out numbers the bad by a milestone. I am a teacher, and I do not consider it a job; I consider it a way of life. There’s your difference. There are millions of us like this around the globe. If there is going to be testing, then so be it. But testing at a level cognitively apt is logical. Please don’t blame the kids, or teachers, place blame on those who feel that children can be pushed to the limit and succeed…and teachers as well. So many of my colleagues have left the profession because of this rigorous testing fiasco. They were born to be teachers, not testing administrators. Just saying.

    • LOL! Of course half of the children are below average….as are the teachers. Half of the students are above average, as are the teachers. Funny how statistics work that way!

    • Doesn’t the definition of “average” imply that half are above the median and half below? If more than half are “above average” the point that defines “average” rises. Where did you go to school?

  105. How are Texas’ grade standards a year ahead of the rest of the country? It seems quite the opposite to me; we seem to actually be behind. I’m a product of Texas public schools and I have seen a huge deterioration over the decades. Texas is no “leader” when it comes to education when you look at the nation as a whole. But I do agree that the obsession with testing is over the top.

  106. I remember a teacher telling my class,”for each question there is a right answer, and one that is more right, you just have to guess.

  107. The whole idea of forcing forth graders into this insanity of testing is ridiculous. In fact whoever thought of pushing kids into this is delusional. While training here I had a huge beef against the education system in Texas because it was only following agendas put forward by politicians who have no clue how hard the teachers work to help the students with this insane tests. Something needs to be done and those individuals who sport degrees and doctorates who have never been In an elementary classroom have no business setting out tests for those children. Our aim as teachers is to install lifelong learning in our students but with the current scenario it will not happen and the scores will continue tone dismal unless somebody has the foresight to bell the cat.

  108. Texas teacher here. I didn’t grow up in Texas so take this with a grain of salt if you want to but I also have taught in another state which supposedly performs lower than Texas. So, some comparisons….
    I grew up taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (in the 80’s), a NATIONALLY recognized standard test based on research. This was a long time before No Child Left Behind gave importance to testing. Keep in mind, however, the ITBS even back then ranked me across the country with other students in my age & grade bracket. This means I really was compared nationally.
    I taught in Nevada after NCLB where we had not gotten the memo about teaching to a test. We taught for mastery of the content instead. We gave our students a state test & really gave no importance to hovering over score spreadsheets in dimmly lit back rooms while comparing students like prize cattle.
    Five years in Texas, I’ve seen the TAKS and now the roll-out of the STAAR. My question… Who is writing this test? These questions aren’t about rigor. My first experience with STAAR was at the EOC level for Algebra 1 & geometry. The questions are worded in such a way that a) I would have (and no teacher I have ever known) never taught these concepts in a way that would garner a correct answer on the questions and b) even the brightest students would struggle on the test. Add to this nonsense the fact there are no study materials for the first year roll out. So I pulled from other states EOC tests in order to gain some usable study materials. Nope, out of luck.
    My suggested solution : incorporate a nationally recognized standard like the Iowa Test which has been a recognized standard. I know Texas loves being its own standard & likes to consider itself a country of its own. But sometimes, its OK to be in partnership with other people, other states. This STAAR test is a joke! And don’t get me started on the newly adopted standards! Just because you start earlier, doesn’t mean the kids will be ready to understand the abstract concepts earlier. Who are the people making these decisions??? Clearly, not teachers!!! Clearly, not educators.

  109. OK, we live in Eastland county, Ranger I SD. I pulled my oldest out of high school because literally the teachers would pop in a movie to teach them. She is now learning to write essay ‘ s and such. She has taken the writing portion 3X ‘ and finally passed with the lowest score possible! After we pulled her from school, she took Physics and found out most of what this “teacher” taught her was incorrect! Why do we have “new” math? Wasn’t 2+2 good enough? My kids don’t get it and frankly neither do I. I had to re-read h “the old way” so they could understand it, but, they got it wrong because the way I taught them wasn’t “their” way! I want to know what moron decided it wasn’t good enough!

  110. First the elementary students take the MAPS, then they take the MAPS again, then they take the COGATS, then they take the STAAR tests, and the they take the MAPS again. An entire quarter is spent taking standardized tests, but it’s spaced our over the entire school year. I feel for the teachers and the expectations placed upon them, and of course the students and stress they experience on a monthly basis…

  111. Don’t compare Texas students to other students not taking the same test. The test writers at TEA have been very proud of how hard the test is since the stepped up the TAKS and it has just gotten worse ever since. Making kids feel stupid and teachers feel like failures is ridiculous. Every time they raised the standards the teachers worked the students harder and many districts scored in the 90s and even 100% passing. TEAs response? A new and harder test. Give all states the same test. It’s the ONLY way to see how we are doing. And I’m not on the common core bandwagon. Just a common test or no comparison.

    • The test writers are not TEA personnel. There are test writing committees and these committees are composed mainly of teachers from across Texas.

  112. Amen! I am a Texas 3rd grade ELA teacher. The reading STAAR is challenging and when you narrow your answer down to 2 choices… It is tricky bc either one could be correct in some cases! These babies are young and not ready for this inferring/ higher level thinking it is developmental!!!! We teach with rigor and push our students to always try their best! I think it is very sad for a new 3rd grade student to already be worried about passing that test!! I have students already asking what if I don’t pass STAAR ??? I would love to go back to teaching like I did in the late 80’s!! Now it all about the silly STAAR!! Oh and not to mention even our SPECIAL ED babies have to take the regular Test now??? No more modified????? Really? Something needs to change? They say we don’t teach to the test, yes we do it’s all about that test!!!

  113. In the past I was unsure Texas new test was a good thing.The negative points made by many parents, teachers etc.although insightful lack the big picture.Do you want everything to be easy for your children?What happen to learning some things you have to work hard for?I think anyone who is against the Staar test needs to have more faith in those who have made this change.More importantly more faith in their kids ability to pass it and understand a higher level of thinking. Kids are hearing all this negative talk.It affects the way they feel about the test.My 11 year old daughter received level 3 advanced on her 6th grade 2013 2014 Staar tests.She only missed 2 guestions on the math.The year prior she only passed them as level 2.Most of the school failed that same year,70+ percent failed in 2012 2013.The school changed a lot.Double blocked math and reading classes for all students.The outcome was all students passing and my child missing only 2 questions.Unfortionatley many teachers are lazy and barely make any effort to teach our children.I say this as a parent of 4 children,3 school aged.Also as a teacher for 9 years.The school district was under heavy pressure from the state for major improvement.That pressure was passed to teachers.They worked hard and did a great job.It showed in the test scores as well as the children’s confidence.I hope I don’t offend anyone with my thoughts.I wish people can stop hating the test long enough to see it might actually do our school systems and children some good.Positive thoughts people.They might know what their doing.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chasity. You are fortunate to have an incredibly bright child, and these kids can rise to any bureaucratic challenge. I’m glad your school had some success with double blocking math and reading for all the kids, but I find it sad these kids lost out on other very valuable learning experiences such as art, music and play and reduced time in science and social studies. These other disciplines build connections and skills in the brain that math and reading cannot.

    • I understand totally where you are coming from, but do please realize that research has shown time after time that as humans we progress at a certain rate, and cognitively, 98% of all children ages 4 to 17 are not at point where they can learn more than their cognitive ability allows. Think about the Peters Principle, you can go only as far as you are able to. We, as humans, have not reached the stage of evolutionary change yet, that means that our children are being forced to perform at levels beyond their capacity. And teachers are working beyond their capability with or without testing. Please don’t lump the few that are in it for the paycheck; they won’t last anyway. I guess what I’m saying is that one parent with an ultra intelligence child could not feel the pain of those who have average children….I had one of each. To strengthen my point; the 8th grade history STAAR was found to have portions of the test at a 11.7 grade level. Is that fair or a set up for failure scenario?

    • I have been a teacher for over 15 years both in private and public schools. I currently teach 4th grade which requires 2 days of writing, math, and reading. I am one of those teachers that comes to school early and leaves around 6. Most teachers aren’t lazy. My husband is a HS public school teacher in the inner city. He is also very committed to teaching. It is his second career coming from upper level management. I also have a daughter who is an 8th grader. It pains me that we put all of our children through so much testing which includes unit tests, benchmarks, and state testing. It isn’t developmentally appropriate at all. Enough is enough already!

    • I worry that you hope you don’t offend a anyone with your thoughts, yet you feel comfortable stating that many teachers are lazy. I teach at a Title I school in a district with a population that is 99% Hispanic. 100% of our elementary students qualify for free breakfast and lunch. Lazy teachers here are pretty few and far between.

    • Excuse me, teachers are not lazy! Don’t judge someone until you have walked in their shoes. As a trained educator I believe most of the children are not developmentally ready for the new standards. The kids I have in pre ap that are doing well are the exception and who knows what makes the difference. Also, the average 5th grader can’t master brand new concepts like prime and composite numbers in 3 days. That’s how much time I had to teach it. The calendar is requiring us to throw the material at them and move on to the next thing. By the way, take a look at the math standards and compare them to common core. Texas parents have been fooled into believing we don’t have it here.

  114. When I was in school the Teachers taught… We passed tests… Don’t know when teachers were restricted to teaching for a test…. Kinda defeats the purpose of being a Teacher… Have to say if I was to have kids( kinda late for that bit) I’d have to really think about Homeschooling them..

  115. Amen and I teach as well. I told my students the first week we have to take the STAAR test but I challenge them to learn the math and not worry about STAAR. This year is the first year for new standards in math to be tested and they move material from 6th to 4th grade from 7th to 5th. How? 5th graders struggle with fractions let alone multiplying them! Come on use common sense

  116. I worked in the Texas school system as a teacher aide for four years before I was fortunate enough to move on and start teaching at the University level. It’s not that I hated the work or the children or even the school I was at, I loved them all, but it was the public education system I honestly couldn’t stand. Everyone, teachers and administrators alike, were so stressed out about the scores and the threat of the state officials coming in and taking over if we didn’t do well enough that actual, long-lasting learning was almost completely absent within the classrooms. The students were so stressed out that a lot of them just resigned themselves to being “stupid” and gave up, and for the ones with issues at home already this led to a lot of resentment and lashing out. Behavior issues skyrocketed in our once calm and safe school, and administrators were too busy worrying about scores to notice much. Of course this just led to less learning within the classroom and even lower scores, which led to more stress from the teachers, which led to more resignation from the students, and the ugly wheels on the bus just kept going round and round.

    To make matters worse, I worked primarily with special education children in the resource setting, so a lot of my kids had learning disabilities but were still required to take a modified version of the test……and that modified version was still a big ol’ joke. Really the only modifications that were going on were one less confusing answer choice (three confusing answer choices still remained) in the multiple choice portions of their tests and their stories on the Reading STAAR were cut up into smaller chunks so they wouldn’t get too overwhelmed. Now they’re even getting rid of those modified tests, and before I left the teacher I worked with was fighting to at least get a scribe for one of our students who had brain surgery as a child and had a lot of difficulties because his short term memory was all but non-existent so it would take him forever to learn even the simplest concepts. He reads a little better but still, he’s in 4th grade and still can’t really write sentences. So how is he going to be expected to write a whole essay on his own?! Is it his fault that he had to have that surgery when he was born?! I should say not, and yet the state is STILL refusing to give him someone to help him write out his thoughts. I have very little hope that he’s going to pass his tests, nor do I think many of my other former students will pass their tests because they all have pretty severe learning disabilities. But that is not their fault at all. It’s not fair for ANY child to be judged so harshly through a test made up by officials hundreds of miles away and who don’t know a thing about them or how they learn, let alone those children with disabilities.

    I don’t know, I just feel like the state is so disconnected with the realities of the classroom that there’s little hope of those tests improving any time soon. If I had my way I would do away with them altogether. But then again who am I? Certainly not a “state official” who knows what’s best for our children. I’m just someone who worked with them one-on-one for the past four years and took into consideration the individual ways they learned and tried to help them in the best way they would learn. I’m no one at all….

    And now a very appropriate quote from Albert Einstein…..

    “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

  117. Several members of my family and friends are teachers in Texas and they all share the same feelings expressed in this post. As a mother, my frustration couldn’t be greater: our 3rd and 4th grade children are fed up with having to do the same practices of reading over and over again! And for what??? My daughter loves to read and she has always read at a higher level than she is, at one point in third grade, she started HATING reading classes! Because the class is not about the adventurous enjoyment of reading! Or about comprehending what’s been read. It’s about “mastering” the mechanical skill of answering ridiculous questions about the text they read. Try to do this over and over again during a full school year without hating it! I like the idea of not sending them to school the day of the staar tests. Even if this doesnt rescue our children from the boring pressure this school year, it may help sending a clear message to legislative bodies.

  118. Hang on there, everyone. Something has to be done across the state. Parents and teachers need to come together and make a change. It almost sounds like a dictatorship. We are the public, parent and teachers, and our children attend public schools and we pay for them by way of taxes. Who’s running who? And who is using our money on things so many did not give them the okay to do so? If there is an outcry over the STAAR tests and the rigor that goes with it; then why isn’t the public being listened to? I understand that teachers are afraid to loose their jobs, etc. But there has to be a way for teachers and parents, even students, to ban together and send a strong message to Austin….Washington even. For the middle and high schooler who wrote their comments; college will be far different – you will actually learn something there. Best of luck.

  119. Hello, I’m just gonna say, I’m 13 and in 8th grade. About the test stuff, it is really stressful and what the teachers have to teach us (If you’re not taking honours classes) is how to pass the test. We barely learn any new material. I was in regular math classes last year in 7th and it was honestly just review stuff and barely any new stuff until AFTER the tests when we started to learn some 8th grade stuff. I really and truly think that the state of Texas shouldn’t test all of us so much.

    In my math class in 7th grade I was one out of two people in my class who had passed the math STAAR test and you needed to get at least 14 questions right (I think, it may have been 24) to pass. I got 43 out of 56 right, though the test was pretty stressful and I felt like I was going to fail. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t have a panic attack.

    Well that’s just my little piece of info, feel free to reply to my comment and whatnot. Cheers.

  120. This all just makes my blood boil….I have ranted and raved…but I am petrified of our district keeping my children back if they don’t take it. My oldest never had a problem taking tests so it didn’t take forefront in my mind..until my daughter, an anxious test taker, started this whole mess in 3rd grade. STAAR induced panic attacks in my little girl! It has been a struggle. She’s a smart girl, making excellent grades but these tests put doubt in her mind and give her amounts of stress that no child should know.
    My youngest just started 2nd grade this week. The other day he asked from the backseat of the car…”Mom, what if I don’t pass the STAAR test?” Great. Already?? We’re already here?! What can we do?

  121. Well said!! As an 18 year teacher, I say let them come into my classroom and teach to my class. Better yet, let thsir own children or grandchildren fail one. Let’s see the changes then.

    The rigorous curriculum requires more instruction time then we have in one school day. It’s impossible to teach them all with the fidelity we’re required to. The administrators know this and are supportive. What about the higher levels??

  122. I’m a junior in high school, and I’ve been taking these standardized tests since the third grade. While taking the tests brings some feelings of nervousness, I’ve always felt like my teachers have over prepared me. Personally, I don’t even think this is an issue. It’s an inconvenience to take the tests sometimes, but I’ve always felt like the information on the tests are basic skills that kids should know in order to graduate high school.

  123. I was a high school senior when the staar test came about. They made us take it and said it was to “test the test”. I had passed every single state test with 85 or higher for the past 4 years and when that test came I was in the room for 2 hours and was only on question 20. I usually finish in less than an hour. I only got to question 20 because I skipped 5 others! I became so discouraged that I merely put down my head and slept from mental and emotional exhaustion. That test made me feel like I didn’t deserve to graduate and I still question myself. I watched my little sister cry for hours when they made her retake it for the 4th time last year. My sister is learning disabled, and severely ADHD and they put her through this over and over again. The only reason she finally passed was because the teachers bent the rules and gave her 9 hours to take the test and sat by her the entire time helping her. Our teachers are not the problem! My plan was to go to school to be a teacher, after seeing my family be so discouraged and put down by the state test for the last few years I have lost my desire to be one. Our teachers are a blessing in many of our lives, they do not deserve this any more than the students. M

  124. If only we could all go protest against the STAAR TEST, and come out winning, we would have healthier teachers, students, and administrators. My own children have experienced anxiety over this. My oldest son, was in 3rd grade and only 8 years old, when he developed ulsers that were contributed from the high levels of stress caused by the test. He graduated top 10% of his class and was commended each time he took his test, but to see such a young boy, literally get sick over this,did strip him from having a normal childhood. I believe in being tested academically and frequently on all subjects learned in class, but to limit their normal learning and only focus on what will be on the the test to keep a job, is not what teachers signed up for. I wish they, meaning the leaders of this state and country, would stop and consider their own education as an example. All great leaders today, did not have to worry about taking a STAAR test while they were in grade school to be where they are at because they had a normal teacher in front of a chalkboard that enjoyed her job and was able to teach ALL subject’s. Giving those students a well rounded education. Why not have placement testing, which target the strengths and weaknesses??? This would allow children an opportunity to work and focus more in a specific area.

  125. It sounds like this writer has children in Austin ISD, which is as much to blame as the state. Look closely at the names of those 6 tests your son took – I bet at least 3 of them are Benchmark tests and those are AISD-specific tests, not Texas. They’re used to predict how kids will do on the STAAR.

  126. I’m a high schooler and I took TAKS 3rd-8th grade and it was easy, you didn’t need much to be able to pass it as you got older because the tests really just got easier. Then I get told my year is the first year to take STAAR, that my year will be the only year that takes STAAR in high school my freshmen year because Sophomores and Juniors will be the last group to ever take TAKS and I remember leaving one of the tests wondering when the hell I was taught that and no one knew what it was and my teachers were even saying that those questions weren’t part of the curriculum for that year. Needless to say that’s when my hatred for TEA started.
    My junior year of high school I get told that out of the 10 STAAR tests I had taken so far, only 5 were going to matter and four of them were going to be come two tests. I was pissed. I was glad I wouldn’t have to take an Algebra II STAAR because I didn’t even think I would pass it. I have never before in my life ever felt doubt about getting commended on a state exam but with STAAR I felt like I wasn’t going to do well.
    I can go on and on and on about my hatred for Texas Educational Agency, and I could go on about how my teachers hate it as well. But I’m not because no one wants to hear that. Just like how no one wants to hear that there are young elementary school children who are crying because they don’t understand a test when they should be crying because the school year is over and they’re going to miss their friends.

  127. Agreed. I teach History. I made the mistake of moving from the 7th to 8th grade, and after 3 years of fighting a losing battle, I asked to be moved back to a lower grade – I teach 6th grade now. I did not get into education to teach to any test, nor use my degree of History to test and not teach what should be taught. An EOC would suffice, but not this test that is grade levels above the students cognitive ability. It kills me to see them struggle and see the worry on the faces of my colleagues. Teachers have been denied a new contract over these tests. Teaching can be a struggle to begin with; why make it worse?

  128. I am entering my tenth year as a seventh grade math teacher. I believe there has to be some form of assessment to keep schools accountable but at the end of the day I need more that 46 minutes a class to teach like they expect us to. It’s impossible to deliver fully engaging activities in such a limited time period. With the new standards I will be teaching concepts that high school freshmen struggle with. I pray this will be my last year in the classroom. I’m good at my job but the pressure and lack of appropriate amount of time is a joke. I give it my all every year but it gets harder and harder. I was raised in a private school setting and I can tell you as a public school teacher I work harder than any of my private school teachers ever did.

  129. It’s all money driven. Pearson is making mint selling their products to states like Texas. These tests are useless and they are politically driven. Our children have been stripped of their childhood and the joys of going to school due to the level of rigor they are driven to. I do not believe that any teacher who is in a testing grade and subject has really taught yet. But the sad part about it all, people still vote for those causing this fiasco.

    • We “think” the level of rigor is tougher, but our students rank so much lower than the rest of the world. As a classroom teacher I realize several things: first, the people making decisions for our public schools have never been in a classroom, nor do they send their own children to public school.

      Next, the TEKS (knowledge standards) are massive and don’t line up with the test questions.
      Our districts give us a scope and sequence with how many days it should take us to teach a concept. Too much in too little time.

      Third – I am 55 years old, didn’t go to college until I was 41; my oldest child was graduating from college at the time. I hadn’t been to school in over two decades and managed to do quite well; even graduating with honors. I had young students asking for help with research and papers because their writing skills were atrocious. I never had standardized testing in school and when I returned to school so many years later, that solid public education came into play. My teachers were able to use their skills and “teach” us, not put on some dog and pony show. Cookie cutter lessons.

      I so agree with everything you said about testing being politically driven. Everyone I speak with pretty much agrees, yet somehow the same people get elected over and over. Also, I have students who have never passed a standardized test, yet they keep getting “placed” not promoted into the next school level. So really, what’s the point?

      Thanks for your comment. As a teacher, it’s nice to know that we aren’t getting blamed by everyone.

  130. I told my daughter to do her best. That if she passed great if she didn’t to do not worry I would not allow the stupid law makers to say she couldn’t graduate. That I would be on someone’s door step if they stood in her way. There was no way in hell that they could do that when they themselves could not even tell people what the passing scores would be when they set the requirements. Lawmakers are not educators. Lawmakers have no business dictating what education curriculum should be. As of now my daughter is set to graduate in May. She has not failed a staars test. I feel for the families that have students who are struggling with this inappropriate and inadequately designed standardize test. We as parents and educators need to stand united in this and force a change.

    • What would happen if there was “Put your pencil down” campaign? What would the state do if children of all ages just dropped their pencils and not take the test? Would every single student fail the test and be held back? I think not. I would call that a revolution in education.

    • I completely agree…my daughter was held back a grade,when most if her classmates proceeded on to the next grade level. Even though she PASSED ALL of her classes, she could not pass the STARR. I think that EVERY one of our Legislators should HAVE to take the STARR test since they are so into making TEST for out children.

  131. I think this is Nuts!!! Why then make it mandatory for our legislators, and who ever makes up these idiotic test, take these test and come TRY and teach our precious children who are stressing out and feeling worthless NEEDLESSLY!!! Our teacher’s love their jobs and absolutely love our children, But come on this is not helping anyone THAT MATTERS!! OUR CHILDREN OUR FUTURE!!! GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO BE CHILDREN!!!

  132. As an educator of over 20 years, I have been fighting this battle for years now. What has been & continues to be enormously frustrating is the blank stares that greet me when I mention how developmentally inappropriate these tests are. Sometimes it is a case of ignorance of developmental appropriateness. Sometimes it’s a refusal to acknowledge it. Either way, this is inexcusable for professionals in the field of education. I often feel alone in my stance against over-testing. Where is the educational leadership?

  133. Nope, don’t blame it on Pearson!! The Texas State Department of Education approves what it wants on the tests. These STAAR tests command higher order thinking, over time they will do better over these sort of tests. But, if we want them to be able to compete against other nations like India and Japan. Then it’s got to be a rigorous curriculum.

    • Please read Diane Ravitch’s “Reign of Error.” Americans have been sold a bill of goods on academic performance figures. We do VERY well when you adjust for poverty and disability; poor and special needs children are NOT tested in these other countries.

      Sorry, but Pearson and their lobbyists are HUGELY responsible for this mess. They started in Texas and spread their lies and money to the rest of the country. The figures have been grotesquely manipulated.

    • The presence of the tests does not mean the presence of rigor and success on any does not mean the teacher is to credit. Just as failure does not translate to bad teaching. The tests measure but a sliver of the student’s learning and skills in a very specific and one dimensional way. The hs ELA test for 9th and 10th graders is 5 hours long. The pass rate for the state in 2014 was 47%. As a teacher in HISD, I am told that this test has college readiness standards that serve to measure the student’s likelihood of success in college. I don’t need a test to tell me that a Texas 9th grader isn’t ready for college. I know he isn’t. Nor is a 10th grader. But the test officially declares this to be so and now it also tells the unsuccessful student that college is not where you need to be because you’re a moron and won’t succeed there so don’t bother trying since you suck so bad. The tests also declare how poorly a teacher does her job which puts her on a professional growth plan that will swiftly cripple her spirit and drown her morale and make her question her life’s value and worth. The tests do not offer any consequential insight to a teacher’s job performance or a student’s capacity to learn any more than a pregnancy test can reveal if a person will be a decent parent. Texas parents must now, more than any other time before, step up and participate in their child’s learning and demand that our policy makers, politicians, representatives and all the others making the decisions that have brought us all to the corner of Wake the Hell Up Avenue and Staar Sucks Ass Street. Look at the tests they are using to steal valuable instructional time away from your child’s growth and betterment, the teachers’ ambition to individualize instruction to best serve the unique and varied needs and interests of every single student and the motivation of students to embrace their strengths and challenge their minds. The tests are not objective, the data they produce is senselessly not viable and the continued use of them is symptomatic of the little worth our species places on education, our youth and those that choose to better serve us all.

    • If you really feel this way come teach my 22 bilingual children that are learning the language and skills yet are still expected to pass these test who are written for main stream educated America. Skills that keep moving down to lower grades. Kids are not mentally developed for these concepts. Higher order thinking for a child that can’t understand a question in either language is proposturus. AND yes Pearson is making a killing, lining their pockes with the expectations of adults who are not in the front lines. I am plenty Rigorous, learning a second language from scratch usually is. I am from a generation with no tests and I have two degrees and so most of my colleges. Besides this, other countries do not count poverty or special need students on their figures and statistics. America on the other hand does. Neither is to say that on some of these other countries only the brightest get to go to school, in America all students have tbe right to an education…..Did you know the special need children have to take the same “rigorous” test as the rest of the population and counts as a regular non special need child?

  134. Too much pressure on our elementary aged kiddos and too much classroom time spent on test prep! Even in our excellent neighborhood elementary, learning new skills went out the window in February in order to prep for STAAR in May!! My oldest daughter was so stressed out by the tests that she BEGGED me to homeschool her and her sister for the following school year. I agreed and we’ve never looked back. One of the best decisions I have ever made. Maybe if more of us start pulling our kids out of school in protest and start homeschooling, someone will wake up.

  135. I agree 200% with the contents of this article, both as an educator and as a patent. Going forth, what can be done about this growing crisis? Tell me more information about the opt-out choice.

  136. I am a senior in high school and have passed all of my eoc tests. I can honestly say that the test is messed up. My freshman year my English teacher said that they didn’t know what to teach us for the test and then when the scores came back over 60% of freshman in the state (I think it was the state) had failed the test. The problem with these state tests is that teachers teach us specifically for the test and the state never tells exactly what is supposed to be taught for the test and then everyone fails. State tests shouldn’t determine our future in school and shouldn’t try to determine how smart we are. Last year when I took the US History eoc nothing that was on the test was taught in class. The passing grade for that test was a 40%. It’s not right for a test that only this state gives to determine whether we are smart or can go onto the next grade or graduate. I am completely agreeing with this article. State tests should just decide whether there is something the student needs help on or if the school is doing a good job with the education.

  137. As parents (which I am not), simply keep your student(s) home on the STAAR testing dates. There is a mandatory window for test administration and the tests cannot be given on other days. The dates are listed on your district’s calendar. There is no retention based on STAAR except in grades 5, 8, and high school & the 5-8 retention rules have been suspended againfor this school year. As long as your student passes the class, they are in the clear.

    As a teacher, there is nothing I can do to object to administering the tests. My contract states that I must administer them as a condition of my continued employment. There is nothing I can do to alter the TEKS to be more developmentally aligned because I am bound by state law to teach the state required material. I cannot tell my students that the STAAR tests really don’t even matter.

    • It’s not that easy; you have to pull your kid out a minimum of three full days, which runs you afoul of truancy laws. You also have pull them out for “practice test” days, so add another three days to that total.

      While some parents were successful in their opt out efforts, others were nailed to the wall by their school districts and kids have been held back.

      The change must be made in Austin!

    • The vast majority of parents who assertively defended their parental rights came out just fine. There is some risk, but when your kids are getting sick from testing, at what point do you stop letting them be guinea pigs? There are also strategies to minimize the truancy threat.

  138. As a high school EOC teacher in Social Studies I don’t really think there is that much wrong with the test, rather there is more of a problem with students simply being passed along. I’ve worked at both inner city schools and in the suburbs and have repeatedly seen juniors in high school with poor reading, writing, and listening schools; skills that are at more of a middle school or elementary school level. Schools are so worried about graduation rates that if a teacher has too many C’s, D’s, or F’s because they attempt to hold the students accountable then the administrators hold meetings and the teachers “get in trouble”. Teachers can get demoralized and stop caring or trying. Students come into class feeling entitled to pass. The teachers are then fighting the students, the administrators and the parents. I refuse to pass students along and have had more than one conference about my methods. My students typically end up getting commended and the administrators are happy until the next school year when I go through the process again. It really isn’t the test as much as all the other issues that teachers have to deal with that leads to students moving ahead through school toward graduation without skills they should have acquired.

    • As an early elementary educator, the TEKS that are required for the younger elementary kids are not developmentally appropriate. I agree that any kids are passed along but aren’t being taught developmentally appropriate skills because the state requires us to teach the skills they are not quite ready to learn. It all stems back to the state and their unrealistic expectations for the kiddos.

  139. This is so true. How are ID kids suppose to pass regular STAAR now when they couldn’t pass STAARM? The Legislature needs to go to a real low socio-economic school filled with bilingual students, Special Ed students including both AU and ID kids and see great teachers teaching these kids. Many are learning at the best of their ability. STAAR DOES NOT measure that!!!

  140. As a special Education teacher, I am horrified that the students will be taking the “accommodated” STAAR, which is what STAAR-A stands for. The modified tests were extremely difficult and never changed. I administered the English I test for several years and they never worked on the test or changed it. Same stories, same questions every year. We are given impossible standards to live up to, the special ed students are completely left out in the dust, the new graduation requirements are mostly college-bound friendly, and still the legislature wants to blame the teachers. Somehow I don’t see my career following my predecessors’ 20 year and 30 year terms. Too much stress over things we can’t fix, and we can’t help kids (which is why we picked this job) the way we need to because of all the crazy standards that constantly change.

  141. That’s because you have legislators and TEA passing these type of tests and standards. It Makes them look good to say they are holding Texas schools and teachers ” accountable,” yet they have never set foot in a classroom or have taught children or understand their needs. Children are not scores or a number. Let teachers and parents decide what the student needs are.

    • When will the legislature be held accountable? The fall out from politicians making all the decisions in education without even a ” cliffnotes” version of what teaching, education or even the children of Texas are really like is going to cripple our state for generations. … who’s going to take that fall?

  142. AS a retired teacher, this breaks my heart, and makes me furious!!! When I started teaching ,it was all about taking them as far as their imagination would go. Traveling to places through book where they had never been. Over the years, creativity was replaced with logic. Logic alone sucked the joy of teaching and the creativity and joy of learning out of the children of Texas. That was the reason I retired at fifty. Logically, I wanted to find my creativity again and return to living life with joy and discovery. So Sad!~!!

  143. The tests are probably the indirect reason I’m homeschooling my youngest. At the beginning of Kindergarten I learned that this year they would be expected to be at a higher level of reading at the end of the year, and they wouldn’t be covering things like shapes and colors. My child came to school excited and struggled all year, crying nearly every day before school, even though he seemed to like his teacher and from what I observed she was good with the students. I learned at the end of the year that they had been discouraged from doing too many “play-based” activities (exactly what experts say children at this age need). There is no test in Kindergarten yet…but I assume this is all to get them ready for next year’s star.

    So I’m homeschooling. Children develop at different rates (my oldest could read at 4, but my youngest was just not ready). The problem with standards is that they are standard–they don’t make room for individual learning differences. But when “standards” are not correct for the developmental stage (are designed for only the most advanced students), they aren’t just inadequate, they’re harmful.

    • I’m so glad you’re able to homeschool; I’m sure many other parents wish they had that option. It’s infuriating that our tax dollars are being wasted on this mess.

  144. While I agree that some of the standards may not be developmentally appropriate and that standardized testing in general is not the best form of measurement i do find after having worked in Texas public schools for 20 years now that kids tend to rise to the challenges we set for them. I do not support the pressure placed on students to pass and the unnecessary anxiety that comes with them. My 3rd grader is already worried about tests 8 months away. How did we get in this mess? It was calls from particular groups of people and politicians who said our students are not keeping up with the world’s students and we can no longer compete in the world economy. Much of it began as I entered public education. That same message is carried by bloggers, radio personalities and politicians looking for “reform” education even today. Public schools are called “screwls” and public educators are ridiculed. They all recall the good old days. Guess what? They are no longer. This is a brand new world and our kids are asked to do more, and actually do, than any of us who were educated prior to 2000 ever were. The “A Nation at Risk” report from the 1980’s threw us all into crisis mode and set us on the road to state standards and eventually standardized testing. It also pointed out something that was a growing problem. A widening gap in education between those who are economically disadvantaged and those who are not. If we are to keep the promise our nation set out from its beginning of a meritocracy then we must do right and good by all by making sure our public education system moved from the factory model of old to a system that is nimble enough to address the rapid changes in our world and rigorous enough to challenge all our student to strive for their highest capabilities. I fortunately work in a district where as important as test scores are what is most important is educating the whole child and making sure they exit our system with the same passion for learning as they entered it without economics determining success. Public education is headed in the right direction if only we could get politics and our politicians who know nothing about education out of the equation. These tests are purely there for politicians to grade public schools and tout their success or failure for their own political gain. So, keep the fight up against the state tests. I will say that standards are not a bad word and good standards can truly enrich a classroom and a child’s experience. Finally, as a curriculum writer, we do the best with the standards the state gives us.

    • So the reason that 85% of ELL students can’t pass English EOCs is that they aren’t rising to the challenge? We are dooming the fastest growing population in our schools to institutionalized failure and we will pay the price for this economically.

  145. I think it is a very stupid test. I agree a lot of the questions try and trick you. I had a son that has always made good grades. His fifth grade year he made either A honor roll or A B for the whole year. Well because he didn’t pass the reading they were going to hold him back in fifth grade. He got a practice book to study to retake the test. I couldn’t even help him on all of it. A lot of the question made no since. He cried and stressed for two months. I have a set of twins in fifth this year. They have learning problems. One is on a 504 and the other I beleive it’s called art here( I.E.P) May sound bad but I know they are not going to pass this year or next year. They are way below on the testing scale. So I am not looking forward to the end of the year. What does this tell a child? How does this help a child? So we just keep holding them back every year? So by the time they are maybe in the 10th grade they are at the age of 18 where they just give up and quit school. I think it’s causing to much stress on our kids, parents and teachers. I beleive it’s going to be the cause of more kids dropping out of school.

  146. I agree with Goldfish Roadkill! I have a B.S. In Education, and I am a certified Teacher grades 1 – 8 and Special Education PreK – 12th grade. I have taught in the classroom 15 years, with experience in Elementary regular Ed, resource classroom, content mastery, Life Skills, etc.

    My daughter is smart and talented, and after years of TAKS and STAAR, she makes comments of feeling stupid. So, I just had to read your blog!

    Another aspect that we need to look at is that the classroom teachers feel the absolute need to constantly work on those word problems because, it’s imperative that the student pass the star testing. Therefore the child gets little time or repetitions to work on basic math concepts.

    Thus the child who does have a concrete brain and is forced to think abstractly becomes confused. So by the time the child does think abstractly and would be ready for abstract thought processes like algebra they are now at the point where they don’t have their basic math skills in place.

    This is so obvious to the elementary school teacher yet there’s not anything they can do about it.

    Teaching rigorously should mean going in depth in the subject matter that is appropriate for their developmental age as well as, giving plenty of examples, time and repetitions to learn that information. But, the state of Texas and the administrators take that to mean teaching the child beyond their developmental level. Which we know that is inefficient! When creating these standardized tests, TEA, know your audience! Stop making our students feel like Losers!!!

  147. I’m a SPED teacher in Texas as well, and the whole idea of STAAR makes me ill. How are we justifying this test when IDEA states that we are supposed to provide FAPE (free and appropriate public education) to our students based on their IEP? I teach lifeskills and having to administer the STAAR ALT exam makes me want to beat my head against a brick wall. IEPs are written based on the individual needs of the student, which drove their placement and therefore the type of exam they must take. Why do my 9th grade students who struggle with IADL’s need to be able to participate in a Bio 1 EOC that truly has no meaning to them. It’s all a bunch of “feel good” for TEA. We began doing a huge disservice to our kids when we switched from functional IEPs to standards based IEPs for the STAAR test. Rant over!

    • Jen – I have the same teaching experience as you. I keep saying that the TEA has negated the federal requirement for an INDIVIDUALIZED education for identified special needs students. I hate the STAAR requirements with the heat of a thousand suns. I keep hoping a well-placed, legally savvy parent sues TEA over this issue.

    • I agree. I teach students with cognitive disabilities and their IEP dictates their curriculum, however they must take STAARALT and I’m just trying to figure out how a student who has goals regarding going to the bathroom in the toilet versus their underpants can fair well on a NOW COMPUTER based alternative test that has been developed by the state based on state content rather than student ability,. As someone stated, I am waiting for a parent to sue over this since the student is supposed to be assessed based on their IEP,.

  148. The author is exactly right. We are trying to teach a developmentally inappropriate curriculum to young children. Average kids who should be dong fine in school struggle and look very low academically. I see if daily in my fourth grade class. The problem is not the kids. It is the curriculum and the test.

  149. It’s pretty well known that Pearson is one of the major textbook distributors and was a major supporter/developer of the Common Core curriculum.. You do the math..

  150. Excellent article. One of the main reasons I left the profession after 15 years. My passion is teaching, but STAAR is ridiculous along with the new RTI system. We are losing excellent teachers and frustrating our precious children. For what?! Nothing. My daughter is a 4th grade teacher–4 years in–and will most likely leave the profession in the next year or so. The state won’t listen to those of us in the trenches much less read the mountains of research about developmentally appropriate curriculum and testing.

  151. People need to know that the Texas standards were written to align with the Common Core. Texas rejected federal oversight, but not the philosophy behind the standards. The philosophy behind these standards is also endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Science Foundation.

  152. Amen! We’re currently in phase 2 of STAAR. Next year stage 3 comes out. It’s supposed to be more difficult & the passing rate even higher. On top of that our students will have had only 2 years (including next year) exposure to the new math TEKS. As a teacher I can’t do anything about it. As a parent I want a way to safely opt my son out, without jeopardizing my job.

    Studies show that the main reason we don’t measure up with other industrialized countries in test achievement has nothing to do with our schools. Less than 1% of children in those countries live in poverty. Here it’s 40%. They start school @ 3 & their mothers are given 1-3 years of maternity leave. In the state if Texas Kindergarten is not required, & you have to meet low income requirements for Pre-k. Mothers get 6 weeks of maternity leave & that’s probably because most child care centers won’t take infants until their 6 weeks old. As a culture we’re focusing on the wrong problem.

    • Still the child, no matter what country they’re in, if elementary, you’re a concrete thinker those tests are designed for the child to start thinking abstractly at a very young age. We are asking the impossible. We need to focus on that issue because the tests are unfair!

    • Quick clarification: We’re not moving to stage 3 for a while. That’s why the legislators raked TEA’s Michael Williams over the coals last week.

      Thanks for sharing the info about US kids vs. the rest of the world. In “Reign of Error,” author Diane Ravitch points out US students fare quite well against their international competitors if you adjust for factors such as poverty and special needs. Other countries don’t include poor or special needs students in their testing.

    • I’m involved in the opt-out movement. Some families have been able to opt out with no repercussions, but many have felt the full force of TEA’s penalties enacted by their school administrators. The choice becomes especially risky for kids who are in promotion years.

      • High school students MUST take and pass the five exams or else they will not graduate. No getting around it. The Dallas Morning News ran a report a few months ago that said that 25 percent of the Class of 2015 will not graduate because of the STAAR tests. And sadly, most of these kids are passing their classes. (Which brings us back to questions of the STAAR tests’ reliability and validity.)

        I’m not sure how colleges are dealing with this, although I suspect it may be “no diploma or GED, no admission.” Any one else have info on this?

  153. It’s because there are dollar signs involved in testing. These tests have NOTHING to do with our children. If our kids passed with flying colors there would be no need for a test. As long as they are failing there will always be justification for the government to “monitor progress”.

  154. I think you meant to write Texas Education Agency (the state agency in charge of state-wide issues) and not Texas Education Association?

  155. Texas is using our children as Guinea pigs with curriculum they are not developmentally appropriate. Not even including the poorly designed tests questions that are simply meant to trick students.

    • Every TAKS and STAAR test have what they call field questions and those field questions are used or designed to see how well the child responds to the question and then they decide if they’re going to keep the question or throw it out for the next year. however the field questions are not supposed to affect their scores.

      • Not a fan of the field questions. Actually, I kinda have a white-hot hatred of them.

        No one knows which items on the STAAR test are “field questions,” and kids end up wasting valuable time and energy on crap that has no impact on their score. How many little ones have not completed the STAAR because they got bogged down on worthless field questions?

  156. I agree. I think the test stinks. It makes it hard on the students. Most of them pass the reading and math, in their report cards. But because they don’t pass the Starr Test….they can be kept back. That to me is just BS.

  157. As you are probably aware, the problem doesn’t stop at the state level. The federal government mandates that every state MUST have a testing system to be in compliance with the No Child Left Behind. As a Special Ed teacher, it is very frustrating this year in Texas because we have been able to give students who need a modified curriculum a STAAR M test that was based on that modified curriculum. The federal government has told TEA that we can no longer give a test like this, so we will be “forced” to give students a test that has the same standards as every other student in Texas. If you think, “regular” students struggle with passing the STAAR test, special ed students that have an IQ in the Intellecutally Disabled (MR) range REALLY struggle.

    • There is a modified test. The framework hasn’t been completed, but they are working on it and hopefully the framework will be completed this fall with the test ready to roll out in the spring. It isn’t called STAAR M though and I can’t remember what it called, I think STAAR A. Technically STAAR M and TAKS M were not truly modified but heavily accommodated. To be modified appropriately each student would have been given a test based solely on their IEP (STAAR ALT and TAKS ALT). Those are truly modified. Taking away a few extra questions and one answer choice doesn’t make it modified.

    • The STAAR M no longer exist as of this year. Students will be taking the regular test with certain modifications. This will not work. I am an educator and I am disappointed in the way our children are being treated.
      I have place my child in a private setting because she was struggling when she shouldn’t be. Third graders cry, throw up, and fall to pieces on test day. They are causing our babies to be fearful of test.

    • I am replying to Tammy Nichols as well as to you the TAKS M and the STAAR M, which I gave both, were what I would call modified because of some other reasons such as they used a simpler vocabulary, and shortened the stories and simplified it so it matched closely to the regular testing.

      I worked with kids in the resource classroom who had low normal to normal IQs with learning disabilities and they also struggled with the modified tests.

    • This is an where I think parents can use IDEA their favor. IEP and the testing doesn’t match. Therefore in my opinion the test by its very nature is going against the IEP. Parent need to get vocal. That is what is going to stop this mess. We are now asking 4th graders to do what we didn’t do in junior high.

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