State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (Testing)

Testing, Testing and more Testing

As a parent with 3 children in the Cy-fair School District, I can say that even thru elementary, the kids are always studying for a test or being tested. It is as simple as a spelling test all the way up to benchmarks and STARRS. When I graduated from high school in 1995, we had the TAKS test and our regular class tests, but we were taught, taught by teachers who loved to see our glowing eyes as we learned, learned about life, and the things that would carry us thru life, not tests and how to take tests. Kids now are not taught to learn, they are taught to take test. There needs to be something done to let things be the way they were in the past. Grades were higher, drop out rates were lower, let the teachers teach, quit making out kids learn to take test. Take things back to the old days, when things weren't broken!!


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  1. Comment
    ( Pinned Moderator )

    Based on the comment thread as of Wednesday, September 05, 2012: As Representative Callegari rightly acknowledged, there is much emphasis on testing. Many people, from parents, to educators, to students, to employers believe that testing in K-12 education has gone too far. Judging by the comments, many of you agree. Notwithstanding, how would you change testing specifically? If you advocate banning all testing, how would you measure for accountability in the schools? If you advocate for normative testing such as the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, American College Testing (ACT), or Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), how would you implement and use such tests specifically and how would you ensure that students were learning the specific curriculum of Texas as adopted by the State Board of Education?

  2. Comment

    Sadly, there are content areas no longer taught or instruction has been greatly reduced to allow more time for test preparation. Social Studies in the elementary grades has been pushed to the side to allow more time to focus on the test. Science is barely addressed until 5th grade when it becomes a game of catch up for the test. There is no balance of instruction to prepare our children with the skills and knowledge they need for their secondary school careers. Nearly a billion dollars for testing and too many students leave high school unprepared for university or advanced training. Universities now, more than ever, must offer remedial courses to prepare students for full credit classes, and our drop-out rate is shameful. I understand many in the business community support testing as a form of accountability. What they don't realize is how these tests have narrowed instruction and hindered so many students. Student performance on a test does not mean they are well educated. Texas Workforce Commissioner Tom Paukin expresses a different opinion on testing. He recognizes that our testing system is not only expensive, time consuming, but it is ineffective. One third of all Texas school boards have petitioned for relief from these tests. I have no idea why anyone believes educators want anything for their students but success and bright futures. It is time to let them do the job they were trained to do – teach, so our children can learn.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment

      So true. Something else we observed in our daughter is what we have dubbed the "6 week memory". Kids are taught to retain information only as long as the test - then, never again. There no longer seems to be a progression of material in many classes, as there once was (building the 2nd six weeks upon knowledge gleaned from the 1st). It means we have children who have been exposed to the same idea 4-5 times (or more), but have no MASTERY of the material, nor any depth.

  3. Comment

    It seems to me that the excessive testing being heaped on students is a waste of valuable classroom time that could be spent on learning new things that are NOT covered on the tests. It seems that the tests are a means to lessen the amount of control a teacher has in their classroom and are used to judge bad vs. good teachers. You can NOT judge a teacher solely on how kids do on a given test. There are some kids who flat don't CARE whether they pass the tests or not and who refuse to behave in class so that they disrupt others. How can you judge a teacher based on that kid's test scores?! Not fair to teachers, plus it costs us taxpayers a LOT of money to administer the tests. Let's stop with the new testing already... we have enough.

  4. Comment
    Darcy Anne Kahrhoff

    Students are taught the test, instead of being tested on content they should be learning. The only thing these tests are good for is getting money from gov't agencies. It is a paperwork nightmare for teachers, administrators, and school districts, and distracts from what is really supposed to be happening in our schools - learning! Get rid of the accountability testing, and let the parents and community decide if their children are getting adequate, quality education.

  5. Comment

    Schools need to get back to teaching reading, writing,arithmatic and the scienes. No wonder we are falling behind the other countries in the world. Ask a child a question today about history or science and they can not answer the question.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment

      I agree. They also need to get rid of this ridiculous new math. Kids are more confused than ever and even the parents that want to help can't because they don't teach traditional multiplication and long division anymore.

  6. Comment

    Especially with the new STAAR system, our state requires more testing that states are required to do under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. At the very least, we should consider scaling back the number of tests to the minimum required under federal law.

  7. Comment
    Rep. Bill Callegari

    I agree that we have placed too much emphasis on testing. Many people, from parents to educators to students to employers think that it has gone too far. This high stakes testing is done in the name of accountability", but I am not sure if there is agreement as to the definition of accountability. What does it really mean and are we acheiving real accountability in our schools? For starters I have proposed a move to reducing testing to satisfy minimum NCLB requirements(to preserve federal funding), by replacing the TAKS/STARS with nationally recognized tests, such as ACT/SAT and standard tests such as the Iowa tests. Lets simplify things and let the teachers teach. We have dedicated teachers who want to teach without having their hands tied by too many mandates &

    "Red Tape".

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment

      Rep. Bill Callegari said it best: "...reducing testing to satisfy minimum NCLB requirements (to preserve federal funding)...". That's the key! Just follow the money trail--it leads back to Federal funding? Is money the reason for testing? You have to ask yourself if this really is in the best interest of students or of "school programs". It is time for parents to take responsibility for their children and not leave them in the hands of Politicians who are following the money trail! We removed our children from Public Schools when we began to hear garbage from teachers and administrators alike. They challenged us if we wanted to be involved, telling us that THEY were the ones with the knowledge. Then, they'd turn around and chastise parents for NOT taking a hand in their childrens' education. You can't have it both ways. When our children were transferred to a private institution, our daughter, who had been making straight As, began failing! All testing aside, the Public School teacher had been telling us that our daughter was "very creative". Let me tell you, that being creative and not being able to read and write doesn't spell a good life ahead! So much for testing! It took us only a couple of years of Public Schools to get wise. jk(born and bred in Texas and all for Home Education with Responsible Parenting)

  8. Comment
    Pratt on Texas

    It is a local district's (local-control!) decision to do all the extra practice testing and "teaching to the test". There are well scoring districts do not do all of this stuff. Districts do have an obligation to teach the minimum required in the state curriculum. If they do this effectively, students can pass the tests which cover that information.

    We don't need to return to the days, which prompted the people of Texas to demand testing, when districts gave diplomas to thousands each year who couldn't read at a 4th grade level.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      Cheryl Reid West

      We still give diplomas to hundreds who do not "earn" them. We are required to promote, advance and educate the uneducable.

    2. Comment
      C. Kirby

      I agree the local school districts make the problem worse with all the practice testing. When we "simulate" the real test, we hold students in the testing room the full 4 hours, even when they have all finished in 2 hours - wasted instruction time.

      Since the State is probably not going to get rid of STAAR before testing in the Spring, something that would help is a statement from the State that students can return to a regular schedule when they are finished taking the test. All our students finished the 8th grade science and history tests in less than two hours, but because the way the laws are stated, we had to keep them quiet, in the testing room, for the full four hours. Please, let us get back to teaching.

    3. Comment

      I would bet money that more students today receive worthless diplomas than 15 years ago when we only had TAAS. I taught 11th grade and my students could not write a complete sentence but passed their state tests. Also you talk about local control but it is based largely on what level your students are at when they come to you. I taught in a low income school where everything we did was about the test because otherwise our students wouldn't pass and I taught at a wealthy school where we didn't need to teach as much to the test because they already had the necessary skills. Again this goes back to accountability of students and parents and not just teachers.

  9. Comment
    Cheryl Reid West

    I am a retired Texas teacher (36 years) who now tutors. The ONLY reason I am hired to tutor is to prepare students for the STAARS exam, ie. "catch them up", especially students who transfer into our district. My campus is near an Air Force Base. You can imagine the amount of children moving in and out of our district. I love my job, but despise what state testing has done to our educational system. Teachers and students are exhausted with testing and teachers are stressed to the max with performance.....which is determined by these very test scores. Texas has taken the pure love of teaching away from some excellent educators. Shame on you.I have yet to see ANY actual accountability which can be directly attributed to these tests.

    We are also compared (negatively at all times) to "other" countries. Those countries are not teaching to the masses, they do not have a large cultural diversity, and the parents of many have an active part in their children's education.

  10. Comment
    Christy Garcia

    In the good old days, we did not have to compete in a world market. We did not have to keep up with technology, that changes daily, or learn skills that even seasoned teachers did not have, in order to be the innovators and inventors of the 21st century. Times have changed drastically, and our educational system has to change as well. The standards must be elevated. The expectations and demands on students and teachers must be increased, in order for America to maintain its position as a world leader. We live in a Global Community now, and we have to master many additional skills in order to be able to participate in, and contribute to, that community. Although I agree that standardized testing is not the solution, I know for a fact that going back to the way it used to be would be a mistake. We need to invest MONEY into our teachers, curriculum, facilities, and technology in the classroom. We need to require active teaching, and active learning in the classroom. We need to require parent participation in the educational process, not just through “he/she has been bad meetings”, or ARD meetings, but for all students, all the time. We need to work together with all interested parties, to educate our young.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment

      I agree with you that we need to compete in a world market (and a new economy). The fundamental problem with our education system, is that it does NOT prepare children for that reality (trust me, I am a hiring manager - kids are not coming out of school with the knowledge or skills they need, for the most part). Even universities have a difficult time keeping up with technology. No way our under-funded public schools, built on a 19th century model of factory-style learning, can do so.

  11. Comment

    The schools are so focused on how they place in the district on test scores till they totally forgot about the basics that children need to be taught. They dont need to learn how to take all these crazy test that just rank the school districts, this is for their benefit only. Lets get back to the basics,the old paths - I can see where the bible scripture Jeremiah 6:116 KJV rings so clear and loud

    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)

    Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

  12. Comment
    Christopher Barnes

    There is a simple solution - homeschool your own kids. Then they'll only take the tests you want them to take...

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment

      I have homeschooled my two daughters who are grown adults now and I am now homeschooling two of my grandchildren - it is a BIG blessing!

  13. Comment

    @Angie, we pulled our daughter out of Cy Fair because of the issues they are having (and consistently failing to acknowledge). Glad to hear someone else voicing these concerns (though, in a way, I wish we were the only ones experiencing it!).

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      Angie Smith ( Idea Submitter )

      I have many friends, parents and teachers that have had similar experiences, however, Cy-Fair really doesn't listen to the people in the district, I hope things improve drasticallly!!

  14. Comment

    There is a difference what should be and what is. My two older children were tested with STAAR throughout their education until the latter half of high school. The previous schools didn't inherently "teach" to the test but rather taught them grade level academics. The test is to measure where are we, and where do we need to go. Comparisons between districts will always be part of that. To minimize test taking as a child would seriously hamper our children's ability to survive in the adult world as colleges require exam taking, competency and skills tests for job are required. Teaching kids that it helps to study before an exam is not inherently bad. It also teaches time management and a slew of other skills (such as how to master a subject or critical thinking). It is a test, and leave it at that. Wouldn't you want to know areas that your child might need more development? By the way those two children who tested with STAAR, said that when they took the TAKS as a high schooler it was a piece of cake in comparison.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      Angie Smith ( Idea Submitter )

      that would be great, but being this past school year is the first year that STARR was taken, I am not sure how kids feel about it, especially since we haven't received scores yet and we are already 6 weeks into the new school year. I am not saying remove all testing, but why should a child be so tested that they take tests better then they do in a regular class enviroment or have a 1st grader so stressed out that they hate school.......thoughts to ponder....I have to wonder what kids said that the STAAR test was easier then the TAKS, like I said, no scores have been released! But I can tell you, my kids spent 3 days on that test and came home crying each day.....