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Articles STAAR | EOC Testing

Bubbling All “A” on STAAR is a BAD Idea

For reasons that are not clear to me, we’ve seen a sharp increase in “helpful” parents suggesting the answer to STAAR is to go along and bubble all “A” or all “C” or make some random design.  PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO THAT SUGGESTION!  Bubbling all the same answer will produce data.  That data will them be displayed across numerous axes and presented in a manner that demonstrates the deficiencies of your child academically.  The teachers and staff will then develop a plan to remediate your child based on this data you have so helpfully created.  Electives will be dropped and special state funded remediation classes will be added to your child’s schedule.  And when you go to complain, there will be data demonstrating exactly why they are doing what they are doing.

Now, maybe you will convince them to actually look at the answers and see that she chose the same answer. (P.S. If you actually tell your kid to bubble randomly you are stuck with the data – WORST ADVICE EVER).  Maybe that will convince them to drop the nonsense, but don’t count on it.  Because following the data is the safe play of the lazy and weak-minded.  They are safe professionally to just do what the data says than to think independently and say “this student was making a statement when they chose all the same answer.”  (Incidentally, you can’t choose all the same answer, because STAAR choices alternate between starting with A and F – now try explaining your strategy when you have to meet with the school!).

 

So what can you do to effectively refuse the assessment?

If taking a paper administration:

1) Bubble nothing

2) Bubble at least two choices for every question

Both of these options will produce no data other than the raw score.

If taking an online administration:

Page through to the end and submit the assessment.  Once the submission is confirmed, you are done.  The STAAR Test Administration manual indicates that there are three steps to successfully submitting the test:

We also recommend giving your child pre-written notes or cards indicating that they are refusing (by whichever method you wish) and asking the teacher to contact the parent if they have any questions but not to pressure the student to disobey the parent.

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STAAR | EOC Testing

Preparing for the Two Week Online Window

Updated March 2021

Parents intending to opt out this spring by staying home during the assessment window need to be aware of the expanded window for online administration.  This year, the TEA expanded the window for online administration to two weeks for most STAAR assessments. (Note for 2021: The online window is now FIVE WEEKS).  The paper administration window continues to be one week.  Be aware that if you return your child on the second week, they may be set in front of a computer to complete the STAAR.   The TEA assessment calendar is available here.   We should also note that makeup exams are still a local option.  No school is required to offer any makeups or to offer them for the full period.  If you school decides to end all assessment after the first week, that is entirely within their rights.

Still, to prepare for the possibility of a two week online window, we have the following recommendations:

  1. ARD Parents Should Have Paper Administration Written into the IEP.  By making paper administration the only permissible method of assessment, you can assure your child is going to only have a one week assessment window to deal with.
  2. Work with school on refusal. If your school is willing to work with you, consider asking to refuse (preferably on paper) and return to class on the first makeup day of the assessment window.  Once your child has refused, they cannot administered the assessment in any other form.
  3. If your school does paper administration and won’t agree to facilitate a refusal as suggested above, consider same day refusal. The common refusal technique used by parents is to keep the kids home on the day of assessment and then refuse on a make up day.  This does open the kid up to individual targeting by teachers.  One option to limit this may be to attempt refusal on the first day of the assessment.  Because of the demands of test security and administration, there is much less a school can do if a student refuses in the assessment room.  Is your child capable of sitting there for the assessment and then turning in a blank assessment?  If so, this may be a better option than trying to refuse on a day when fewer students are being assessed
  4. Train Refusal Techniques. If the school is not cooperative, you may have to train your child to refuse.  For some students this is stressful, and it always is a chance for the school to try to force assessment against parental wishes.  If you go this route, I would suggest several strategies.  First, use the card and password system.  Second, inform the administration of your intention and try to obtain promises that they will not interfere.  If they can’t give you that promise, you need to think hard about going with this method.  Engage your district trustees about this issue and your expectation that the schools respect your decisions.

    Appropriate Refusal Techniques

    Paper Administration
    a. Do not bubble anything, write refused on the scoresheet and test booklet
    b. Bubble or more two ovals for each question

    Online Administration
    a. Page through to end and his submit, then confirm your intent to submit the assessment

  5. Withdraw for the entire assessment window. You have an absolute right to withdraw for the assessment period and re-enroll after the assessment window closes.  You can do that with every single assessment opportunity.

TRAPS

  1. Our district doesn’t do online administration. If they have access to the online system, they can still sit a returning student down in front of a computer during the second week.  Do not be lulled into a sense of security by the fact that the normal method of administration is not online.
  2. Bubbling all one answer or random answers or guessing wrong.  Any technique that results in marking one oval per question or submitting one answer per question online will have the effect of producing data that the school can rely on in prescribing accelerated instruction.  It is far easier to argue against this when there is no data, rather than data that could be real, even if it can be explained as being the result of purposeful protest.