AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The STAAR test is something people in Texas are always talking about. Some say it’s needed, others want it gone.
A new report released Tuesday by education nonprofit Raise Your Hand Texas highlights some middle ground. The organization is behind the grassroots campaign “Measure What Matters.”
It said members across the Lone Star State spoke to more than 15,000 Texans to get feedback about the STAAR test.
Using those responses, the campaign put together a report with recommendations on how to improve the standardized testing process that helps shape the framework of education in Texas.
The 65-page report included some key findings which shaped its recommendations.
Kaylan Dixon Smith is the Dallas County Regional Director for Raise Your Hand Texas, and she was instrumental in gathering data for the report. Her work to improve education policies is personal, after starting her career as an elementary school teacher.
“Too often policy conversations happen far away from the people,” Dixon Smith said. “So, now being on the other end of it, I intentionally set up these conversations, went into communities, talked to parents.”
This is a full breakdown of the voices Dixon Smith and others got feedback from:
A majority of responders felt the current success measure the STAAR test uses isn’t very effective.
“If you’d look at the accountability rating system for elementary and middle school, 100% of the A through F rating is based on the STAAR test. One test on one day, what we can do is deemphasize the STAAR in our accountability system,” Senior Director of Policy for Raise Your Hand Texas Bob Popinksi said. “Yes, we have to provide assessments that help inform instruction throughout the school year. But we want to take the weight off what that means.”
Dixon Smith is hopeful the recommendations will be considered by the state legislature.
“We can literally shape their [students’] lives,” she said.
The TEA also announced Tuesday, starting in the spring of 2023, it will be redesigning the STAAR test to test students on things that better align with what they’re learning in class.
This isn’t what Raise Your Hand Texas called for, as it’s strictly looking for improvements to the way the STAAR test is used to measure success.