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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Texas STAAR Is A National Star!

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.  July 5, 2017    Education Views

The Texas required standardized tests -- STAAR -- are vilified by parents and teachers alike who complain teachers are forced to teach to the test, using 25 percent -- 46 days -- of precious classroom time. But there is more to the story than that.

The STAAR tests were developed to align with the new Texas curriculum standards that replaced the old TEKS standards that focused on left wing indoctrination, not academics. Students were tested on the TEKS, using the TAKS standardized tests.

Some teachers want to continue using TAKS. but that means students will be taught left wing Progressive content. Is that what Texas parents want?

Texas lawmakers listened to these voices and tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the STAAR test in the 2017 legislative session. They want to use nationally-normed tests to assess Texas students on Texas curriculum standards. Those nationally-normed tests include SAT and ACT which are aligned now with Common Core. Lawmakers are ignoring the fact that nationally-normed tests are certainly not aligned to Texas curriculum standards.

Texas lawmakers also are ignoring facts about why teachers are conducting test cramming sessions.

Great Hearts classical charter school in Irving, Texas spends only one hour preparing for the tests. That’s because they use the traditional teacher-centered approach without computerized learning and group projects. Each class is content focused so that, by STAAR exam time, students don’t need to endure 46 days of test cramming.

In most Texas schools as well as across the nation, the collaborative approach – a Common Core-Compliant teaching strategy -- with student-led learning and digital learning is the norm! A hot education fad using the collaborative approach is Project Based Learning, an early to mid-20th century Progressive retread.

Common Core teaching strategies are designed to indoctrinate, not educate.

Education policy writer, Maureen Downey, interviewed various students and found their chief complaint was not homework, but rather classrooms controlled by students. They preferred the traditional teacher-centered classroom because they think

  • they could learn twice as much in half the time because teachers allow students to disrupt classroom discussions,

  • too much time is sacrificed to irrelevant chatter or tangents in group work, and

  • group projects allow students to end up being in charge of the classroom, leading to “diminished learning.”

According to the students, there is an unwritten goal about group projects. Students want to be placed in a group with academic achievers because they will do all the work to get good grades while the others are free riders receiving unearned credit.

The fact remains that no matter how well meaning Texas lawmakers are, as long as students are wasting time in activities that are not engaging them in learning academic content, teachers will continue cram courses to prepare students to take any standardized test -- whether STAAR or an alternative.

The fact is that getting rid of STAAR is not going to solve the problem.

Now for the exciting news!

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Morath has unveiled the new STAAR report card to make the results from state tests easier for families to understand how their children are doing in school, what progress has been made, and what parents can do to help their children academically.

Commissioner Morath said Texas is the FIRST in the nation to offer a report that does more than diagnose where children are struggling. The report provides specific resources for parents.

According to the Dallas Morning News interview with Commissioner Morath,

“...the report includes graphics to show how much progress a child has made year to year, as well as suggested reading materials based on his performance level. The state also has suggested questions for parents to ask when meeting with teachers. They vary based on grade level.

“Logging on to the state’s assessment site, parents can see exactly which questions students missed and get access to additional free learning resources, such as games and suggested reading lists.”

Check out the TEA site: http://www.texasassessment.com. It has some really great information.


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