The TEA’s STAAR summary report clearly contemplates that some students will not be tested for reasons other than absence. Yet not a single student who refuses the test is accurately reported in that category. Instead, their data is lumped into the number of students actually tested. Their zero becomes just another student that does not meet minimum standards. Because there is no score averaging in accountability assessment, a zero means the same thing to a school as a student who fails by one question. However, for the district and TEA, the zero becomes evidence that the 95% test participation requirement has been met. These numbers then get placed on federal reports and are used to justify continued receipt of federal funds.
“for a school, it is better to fail a child but report that he participated than to tell the truth that he was not tested. A failing score hurts the school less than non-participation. The impact on the child is unimportant to the data gatherers. It’s all about making the numbers.”