Panel Recommends Changes That Could Replace STAAR Test

AUSTIN For years, Texas education has been defined by a standardized test.

But Wednesday saw a recommendation to change the standard, with a system that could replace the STAAR exam. Our Stef Manisero shows us why educators say it's not the name of the test that needs to change, but the implications it carries.

“It was preparation for life,” said President of the Texas State Teachers Association, Noel Candelaria.

Looking back on his childhood education, Candelaria can't help but remember the way it once was.

“I had standardized testing when I went through school, but my teachers would not spend the entire year getting ready for the test,” said Candelaria.

For years now, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR exam, has left many parents, teachers and students asking the same question.

“How do we truly put the power of teaching learning back in the classrooms, with the teachers, where it belongs,” Candelaria said.

Wednesday, the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessment and accountability voted to recommend replacing the unpopular STAARexam with a series of computer-based tests that would be taken throughout the year. It's just one of nine recommendations headed to Governor Abbott's office and the Texas Legislature this upcoming session.

“I felt like all of these were very lofty, and not actionable,” said Theresa Trevino with Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment.

Trevino was the only vote against the recommendation. While she agrees STAAR needs to go, she wanted to see faster changes.

“I think removing the stakes is at least an easy and immediate remedy while we figure out what our new assessment system looks like,” Trevino said.

She adds, right now, computer-based testing is unachievable.

“Simply because broadband doesn’t exist in all of our schools,” Trevino said.

Candelaria agrees multiple tests throughout the year won't fix the larger issue.

“We’re trying to put all of our children to fit in this one little box and trying to create a standardized student, when we don’t have standardized students,” Candelaria said.

To put the emphasis back on learning, not on learning how to take a test.

The original draft said "This system would replace the current STAAR assessment program."

Wednesday, the panel struck that line from before voting to approve recommendation. It will head to the legislature early next year.

Other recommendations included reducing the amount of material students should be tested on, and allowing school districts to develop their own writing assessments instead of using the STAAR writing assessments in fourth, seventh and high school grades.

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