A bill filed by State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) would allow school districts to opt-out of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness tests, or STAAR tests. If passed, each school district’s board of trustees could decide whether to have STAAR testing.
“Our school children need to have access to the very best education possible,” Slaton said, defending his proposal, House Bill 4198. “That’s why we need to end these horrible standardized tests for those schools who find that they are detrimental to their children’s education.”
His proposal would also require parents to be notified of their school district’s exemption from STAAR testing, and make sure students in said districts still receive high school diplomas.
During November of last year, nearly half the Texas House demanded that STAAR testing be canceled entirely for the 2020-2021 school year, both Democrats and Republicans. Again in February, a bipartisan group of legislators signed a letter to Texas Education Agency’s Commissioner Mike Morath asking for the exams to be canceled, including State Reps. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), Lynn Stucky (R-Denton), Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), and Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth).
Many educators are also against STAAR tests, being the largest single complaint Texas teachers shared during a recent survey. Among the drawbacks associated with STAAR is that preparation for it requires cutting back on teaching subjects a student would need to learn but may not be considered “essential” by Texas politicians. What results is instruction revolving around standardized testing, rather than students’ educational needs; in other words, literally “teaching to the test.” STAAR is also known to increase stress on students and teachers alike, and aggravate behavioral issues.
With many politicians and big business interests still backing the exam, however, the road to ending the STAAR test will be uphill.