Opinion: The STAAR test has to go

Quanecia Fraser



Many students remember dreading taking the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) test growing up. But that dread nowadays has evolved into making or breaking a student’s academic esteem.

I remember preparing for the TAKS tests in elementary school, since my mom would stock up on all the best workbooks. She required me to complete at least a page or two a night. It was what I liked to call “TAKS season.” Everyone around me- my school friends, my teacher and my mother- all seemed to get increasingly anxious around this time. In fact, I would get anxious myself. I’d take the TAKS test, wait a month later and find out that I passed all of the tests with commended performance on at least one of the subject areas. This would be a continuing experience for me from third to eighth grade.

Photo by Texan News

In middle school, news spread that the TAKS test would no longer be administered anymore. My friends, teachers and I all celebrated. We were ecstatic! We would no longer have to deal with the stress of this standardized test, which was nothing but a menace in our academic world. But, of course, it was simply too good to be true.

It was soon announced that a new standardized test would be administered- The STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness). So, just like I had prepared for my TAKS tests in the past, I did the same when it came time for me to take the STAAR tests. I took my first STAAR tests my freshman year and passed all of the subject areas. I sighed with relief.

However, when one of my closest friends who was in the same Pre-AP classes that I was in, received their STAAR scores back, she was not able to sigh with relief. She did not pass one of her STAAR tests.

Not only did I see the disappointment in her face, I could almost feel her self-esteem completely shatter right at that second.

“I don’t know how this could happen” she said. “I’ve always made good grades…”

I watched this scenario play out repeatedly with many of my other friends each year we had to take the STAAR tests. Just as I had passed all of my TAKS tests, I passed all of my STAAR tests, but I always found myself having to convince a friend who didn’t pass the STAAR that “yes, you are still smart.” The students that failed were still smart- they continued to impress their teachers with their spectacular comprehension of the material, while making A’s and B’s in all of their classes. Yet, the STAAR test had them thinking otherwise.

This standardized test is causing immense anxiety for so many students, while not even properly measuring students’ understanding of the curriculum. And, based off what I’ve observed in both the past and present, this is a standardized test that has teachers afraid of losing their jobs because they don’t know if enough of their students will pass the test.

This is a standardized test that has second graders answering “nope” when asked if they are excited for the third grade because they know third grade is the year they will have to take their first STAAR test. But, really, are more complicated standardized tests necessary? Is it worth putting that many teachers, students and parents through such apprehension?

I don’t think so. If teachers know that their students have mastered the material being taught in the classroom, who is the creator of the STAAR test to tell them that they are academically ‘behind?’ Many students are simply not good test takers, and I wish that was taken into consideration before deciding to have a set of tests play such a huge role in a child’s education.

Although I am not an education major, I know school is a place where students are supposed to be able to learn about the world around them, apply academics to other aspects of life and prepare themselves for higher education. School is not a place where elementary school students should be feeling stressed out while learning how to pass a standardized test.

I recently read an article written by Sara Holbrook, an author and a poet. In the article, she described not being able to answer STAAR test questions about the poems she has written.  Clearly something is wrong with this test, yet the state of Texas is still allowing it to tear apart the self-esteems of more and more children.

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