Today Cameron took his first STAAR test (math). Tomorrow he takes his reading STAAR. He said it wasn’t too bad. He thought it was pretty easy and was finished in 1 1/2 hours. After that he had to wait 1 1/2 more hours for lunch and then they spent the rest of the day watching a movie (How to Train Your Dragon in his room… he was a bit disappointed when he heard other classrooms got Frozen and Despicable Me 2). And repeat tomorrow.
These standardized tests annoy me to start with because of the amount of time spent during class learning how to pass them (plus extra cram sessions). I wouldn’t even say they are teaching to the test exactly. It’s more hints and tips on how to figure out the right answer and, for the ones with essays, how to write an essay that will earn the highest score in the 20 seconds the scorer spends looking at it. On top of this the elementary school kids have been learning songs about how great the STAAR is and some apparently made hats (somehow related to the STAAR) yesterday. I’m glad they are trying to make the STAAR no big deal (even though it is a VERY big deal in reality), but songs? And hats? Really?
But it’s the high stakes part of the whole thing that annoys me the most. All year Cameron has done very well in all his classes including reading and math (which are the only two he has a STAAR test for as a 6th grader). He’s gotten all A’s and B’s. Obviously he’ll be promoted on to 7th grade, right? Not so fast. Apparently grades only count for part of promotion. Yes, they have to get 70% or better in their classes to pass. They also have to pass the STAAR tests. If they fail the STAAR tests, they fail the grade. It does not matter if a kid had straight A’s. They must pass the STAARs.
If they don’t pass one of their STAAR tests, they have some options. They can do a retake of the test with or without going to summer school first or they can repeat that class the following year if that’s a possibility (and hopefully pass the STAAR next year). I personally know a kid who got high 90 per cents in his English I class last year, but he still failed the English I STAAR. He passed on the retake a couple months later so he could go on to English II the next year. How does that make any sense? How can a kid get high A’s in a class all year but fail that class because of a single standardized test?
Yeah. I’m just not a fan of this whole high stakes testing thing.