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STAAR | EOC Testing

Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius

This Latin phrase, used in the law, means “the expression of one thing is the exclusion of the other.” In other words, when certain things are specified in a law, an intention to exclude all others from its operation may be inferred.

Why do I tell you this? Because the brilliant lawyers that school districts hire with your tax dollars love to ignore that age old maxim when it comes to parental requests to opt out of full period AI. You see, the Opt Out law says: “(a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent’s child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent’s religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent’s child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity.  A parent is not entitled to remove the parent’s child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test or to prevent the child from taking a subject for an entire semester.

Now catch that last part. The law specifies two things that define when a parent is NOT ENTITLED to remove the child from an activity. The first is to avoid a test, which does not apply to full period AI classes. The second is to prevent a child from taking a subject for an entire semester. This also does not apply to removal from full period AI as (a) the student already has other math or language arts classes and (b) by offering to do AI outside of the full period setting, the parent defeats any argument that AI itself is a subject we are trying to avoid.

So when the school tells you that you are not entitled to remove your child from full period AI because another part of the Education Code says its required (it doesn’t really say that, but let’s pretend with them), just remind them that under the principle of Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius, accelerated instruction can never be considered an exception to 26.010, because the law presumes that all exceptions have been incorporated in the statute and unexpressed ones cannot be implied.

NOTE: This theory applies equally if not moreso to AI that is not in place of electives.

Categories
STAAR | EOC Testing

What About High School? (updated 2019)

The Opt Out movement has grown steadily with parents in Grades 3 through 8 learning to navigate the intricacies of opting out, declining accelerated instruction and handling grade placement committee meetings for Grades 5 and 8.  However, the usual thought process has always been that when the kids hit high school, the stakes rise.  Now, the TEA wields its biggest hammer: the EOC graduation requirement.  A standard line amongst opt out activists is that you simply can’t do it in high school.  But more and more Texas parents are proving that the opposite is true.  More and more Texas kids are finishing their Texas high schools without having taken some or all of the EOCS.  I go a step further.  I hold that, for a committed opt out parent, if you can put aside sentimentality and about $2.50 a week, you, and not the school, hold all the power.

Let’s begin with the best news about high school opt out.  EOC passage plays no role in grade advancement.  Advancement by grade is wholly dependent on passing the classes — just the way it should be.  Since the repeal of the 15% law, EOC exams form no part of a student’s class grade.  Again, as it should be.  EOC results have no bearing on UIL eligibility.  That is strictly based on classroom grades, as it should be.  In other words, the threats that most often deter parents at the elementary and middle school level, that their child will be retained, do not exist in high school.  If your child passes the class and obtains the academic credit, they move on with their grade.

Instead the threat is overt and codified in statute.  Unless your child passes all five EOC examinations, they cannot receive a Texas public high school diploma.  Except they can graduate via the IGC (Individual Graduation Committee) process by passing just three out of five EOCs.  Still, you say, that’s three EOCs we have to take and we want to refuse them all.  But the schools say pass three STAARs or don’t graduate.  That’s not true.  In reality, there are approved substitute assessments that neither the TEA nor the school districts publicize.  And the schools have no choice here.  The Education Code permits the use of substitute assessments.  Other than using the TSI assessment as a substitute, there is ZERO requirement that you first attempt and fail the STAAR EOC.  These substitute assessments, which can be found on the TEA website usually take the form of college readiness assessments, such as AP, IB SAT and ACT assessments.  While they are still standardized testing, these assessments have a much longer history and are much better written than the STAAR examinations.  A student who is “close” on STAAR may find these assessment levels more readily attainable.  Parents are responsible for providing the school with adequate proof of the substitute assessment score. But once they do, that student has met the EOC graduation requirement and does not need that STAAR EOC to graduate.

But maybe you are a hard core resister.  Or maybe you want to be! (Don’t we all?)  Even taking the substitute assessments is too much compliance for you!  I’m right there with you.  I never took an “EOC” to graduate.  My grades and credits earned me my diploma, not some scaled four digit score that nobody can understand.  What can you do to fight STAAR and still have your kid be an accredited high school graduate?  Well here is where the $2.50 a week and lack of sentimentality comes in. Now why did I say put aside sentimentality?  Because in my experience, the biggest impediment to a parent proactively fighting STAAR at the high school level is the parental dream of seeing their child walk across the stage and receive their high school diploma.  It is a scene played out in the parent’s head that in most instances holds far more meaning for the parent than the student.  For students, events like prom, class trips and mementos such as class rings mean far more than sitting in the Texas sun to receive a piece of paper.  To live out this dream, parents readily subject their children, despite learning disabilities, test anxiety, English language acquisition or a myriad of other causes that render STAAR an unreliable assessment, to the annual dreaded cycle of testing, retesting and summer school.  A student challenged in language arts, may take 20 ELA assessments in their high school career in hopes of getting a passing grade.  A math challenged student may take 11 assessments hoping to get that passing mark.  Hours upon hours will be spent in STAAR tutorials and summer school.  Jobs, family vacations and curriculum enriching courses will go by the wayside all for the parent’s dream of seeing the child walk the stage.

In my mind, this is foolishness.  The psychic benefit of that “moment” is grossly outweighed by the psychological trauma to the child.  My son talks about his STAAR tutorial classes as the classes for the “stupid kids.”  That is how he sees himself.  That is how his peers categorize the students pulled out for STAAR remediation. Every ounce of educational privacy rights is obliterated by pull out instruction and remediation that is visible to the peers of these students.  If I had only known . . .

Remember the $2.50 a week I told you to put away?  For about $500, a parent can transfer all the class credits their child earns during their high school career to a private school, and after a short online “tutorial”, receive a fully accredited diploma.  Your child becomes a high school graduate.  There is no stage and no cap and gown, but that credential that opens the door to high school, military service our other pre-requisites is obtained without taking a single standardized test.  The parent wins.  The child wins.  You use your taxpayer provided public schools for every single classroom credit your child needs.  Then you say “thank you very much” send a check for $500 and get the accredited diploma from a private school.  One such program is the CVEP program through The Oaks Private School.   The school is fully accredited.   The diploma is accepted for post-secondary education.  You receive full transcripts.  You win.  (The Texas Success Academy is another option.  In full disclosure, I have spoken with the person who runs the program but do not know any parents who have used it.

Personally, I have spent well over $500 on tutoring, test prep materials, and other services designed to help my now senior level son pass STAAR. (Update: My son only passed three STAARs.  We refused to continue with them and he graduated via IGC in 2015.  He’s since earned vocational certificate at the local community college and decided he wants to give academic courses a try.)  We’ve studied, crammed, argued, fought and cried over this ridiculous STAAR assessment.  When I discovered CVEP, that all stopped.  We made a deal to focus on the areas we agree he needs to improve, continue his strong classroom achievement, and when the school year ends, we’ll do the CVEP program and receive his diploma.  It’s the credential, not the ceremony that matters.  The stress level has dropped dramatically.  Had I known of this program when my son entered 9th grade, he would never have taken a single EOC.

High school parents, with a little planning and an objective outlook, you really do hold all the power.  Take as many or as few EOCs as you wish.  Try the substitute assessments, or don’t. The only threat the school has is to withhold the diploma, but you can tell them “so what.”  You don’t have to homeschool.  You don’t have to pay four years or even one semester of private school tuition.  You can use and exploit the public education you pay for with your taxes.  Your child can play sports with their peers, join the band, compete in One Act Play, and every other activity available to their neighborhood friends.  And they can do it without taking a single EOC.  All you have to do is let go of sentimentality, make it about your child, and tell the school “No thanks, we don’t need your diploma.”  High school opt out, in many ways, is easier than younger levels because the kids are more likely to be able to assert themselves and it won’t affect their class standing.  Just be informed and have a plan, and you might be surprised how easy the rest of it is.

Updated 9/13/19

A special note for SpEd parents:  Once your child hits 9th grade, ask the ARD to write into his IEP that graduation will be based on credits and not on EOC results.  They will require him to attempt each one once. Make sure the IEP says only one attempt.  Because the TEA insists on grading refused assessments, your child can meet the “attempt” requirement simply by turning in his blank assessment.  He will be permitted to graduate with a foundation level diploma.

Discuss this Article:  This article can be discussed on our user forum at this link: http://www.txedrights.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=13

Comments submitted after 1/16/20 must be submitted by the link above.

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STAAR | EOC Testing

Opt Out Wall of Shame – The Districts

Nominate your district: txedrights@gmail.com

Round Rock ISD

In order to entice a refusing student to take STAAR, an assistant principal told a 5th grade student that she had just spoken to his mother who had called and wanted him to take it.  The child was only at school because the mother had called and asked if there were makeup tests that day.  After putting her on hold, the office told her there were no makeup.  The school denied that she ever called, but was confronted with cell phone records detailing the call. (2014)

Medina Valley ISD

Upon hearing that a parent might not let her 3rd grader take STAAR, the teacher first advised the child that she had no choice and would have to take STAAR.  After the parent told the child that wasn’t true and just to direct the teacher to speak with the parent.  The teacher told the child that her mother would be arrested if the tried to help the child avoid STAAR. (Fall 2019)

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STAAR | EOC Testing

Opt Out Hall of Fame – The Districts

Waco ISD

The district worked with parents to create on campus alternate activities to STAAR testing.

Houston ISD

Created a district refusal procedure that promises no adverse action against students for opting out.

Austin ISD

Created in office refusal for opt out kids, allowing them to refuse assessment with parent witnessing, and return to class on the first makeup day.  This was a negotiated agreement after parents retained counsel.

Peaster ISD

A campus principal called an opt out parent whose kid was on campus on a make up day to let the parent know that they needed to pick the child up to avoid having the assessment presented to the child.

 

Categories
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.

Categories
STAAR | EOC Testing

Summer School Action Plan

Thanks to Sherry Neeley who has put together this seven step action plan if you get a notice of summer school.  TPERN notes are in italics.

1) Send the summer school letter

This should be your first response whenever the school tells you unilaterally that your 5th or 8th grader has to go to summer school as a result of STAAR.  Accelerated Instruction decisions (including summer school) are made by a GPC after the results of the second administration are received.  If you have not had a GPC, the school is not following the process.

2) Wait for the GPC.

3) Educate before going in to the GPC

Have you read:

-SSI manual?

This is the most important thing to read.  It makes it clear that AI determined by the GPC should be individualized and that there is great flexibility in what can be agreed upon.  Know the sections about accelerated instruction, and don’t be fooled by statements that specific things (like summer school) are required.  There is so much flexibiity that literally no specific activity is required.

-The GPC guide?

This is a pretty confrontational guide.  It may be needed, but we always encourage parents to enter into the GPC process with the idea that we are here to make an agreement with the school.  Neither side should demand or dictate.  We should all work together to make the best decision for the student.

-seen the summer school info?

4) have some simple at home accelerated instruction plans to offer the school in place of summer school such as Prodigy, Nessy, a reading log, a tutor, a worksheet, etc.

This is very important.  If a school is demanding strict compliance with the law, some AI must be given before the student can be promoted.  How much and what type is completely up to the committee.  Parents can kick start the process by having a clear plan that is matched to the needs of the student.

5) have the waiver of the 3rd assessment completed

Schools do not have to agree to this.  The more documentation of harm to the student you can show, the better. I recommend a note from a medical provider. Even if the school rejects this, you can still refuse to participate.  The waiver is the one time a school can agree to let the parent refuse assessment.  You will learn a lot about their attitude by how they respond to this request.

6) go ahead and have a simple letter typed up that states that you understand that by opting out retention is automatic and this is your formal appeal to the GPC to promote based on grades and classroom performance.

7) know that you can hire a lawyer if things are going badly

Categories
STAAR | EOC Testing

Instant Replay – 2017 Opt Out Webinar

This webinar was held in May 2017 between the first and second administrations of the STAAR assessment. Participants include Scott Placek, Edy Chamness, Ben and Sarah Becker, Caite Brooks and Sherry Neeley. Presented by www.txedrights.net – Texas Parents’ Educational Rights Network

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STAAR | EOC Testing

Please Set Your Password

This is a post I hate to write, but it is sadly necessary.  A number of parents choose to opt out by having their kids refuse the assessment.  This is completely fine.  Choose the best route for you.  A growing number of schools have chosen to work with parents to enable the refusal to take place in a secure environment, where the student is not bullied, and then the kid goes back to class.  That is the proper and humane approach.  And then there are the rest of them.

For some schools, there is a sense of necessity to trick the child or the parent into taking the assessment.  Kids are told they must sit in the room for four hours even if they refuse.  During that time they may be subjected to pressure from the proctor to attempt the assessment.  Even more boldly, multiple instances of trickery have been reported where the child is told that the school has just spoken with the parent and the parent wants the child to try the assessment.  This is deceitful and a gross violation of parental rights.  But it happens.  And it happens every year.  And no matter how many times we warn parents, they all claim shock and surprise.

Please take steps to prevent you and your child from being tricked.  We advocate using a password system.  You and your child agree on a password.  Once the child is at school, if they are told that you have agreed to let them take the STAAR, the teacher must give the password.  If the teacher can’t tell the student the password, the student knows it is a trick and should continue to refuse.  The student needs to be made aware that the teacher or principal may threaten punishments.  The student needs to know that these are likely just tricks and the parent will fight for the student no matter what.  No password = no attempt.  The password gives the child a sense of power and control that the school can’t take away!

I would also send my child to school with several of these:

As soon as they get into the room, set it on the desk.  If the teacher asks them to attempt the assessment, they should just hand them the card and tell them they need to talk to the parents.

Between the password and the Dear Teacher card, you can take positive steps to prevent your child from being tricked or bullied into assessment.

Categories
STAAR | EOC Testing

The “Required” Summer School Notice

As the first results of the STAAR assessment come in and the days left in the school year slip away, more and more parentsof kids who failed or did not take the first assessment are receiving notices that their kids are “required” to go to summer school.  Round Rock ISD is even sending notices that the district has registered the student for summer school.  They may tell you that if they don’t attend, they will be in violation of the compulsory attendance laws.  They may tell you that unless you attend summer school you can’t be promoted by the GPC. As parents of 5th and 8th graders there is one simple and important fact you need to know:

Schools cannot unilaterally require your child to attend summer school as a result of their STAAR results.

The notices these schools are sending are a blend of truth and fiction, and it is important to understand what part is true and when you need to be concerned about it.  Let’s start with the part that has some truth to it.  The compulsory attendance statute does state that (d)  “Unless specifically exempted by Section 25.086, a student enrolled in a school district must attend:

* * *

(3)  an accelerated instruction program to which the student is assigned under Section 28.0211;

and Section 28.0211 (a-1) states that “[a]ccelerated instruction may require participation of the student before or after normal school hours and may include participation at times of the year outside normal school operations.”

This would seem to indicate that a school really can require your kid to go to summer school if they fail STAAR.  However, for parents of 5th and 8th graders, the key is this.  After the second administration of STAAR, if a child has still not passed, the accelerated instruction must be determined by the Grade Placement Committee that you are a part of.  This is clear in the statute where it states:

“After a student fails to perform satisfactorily on an assessment instrument a second time, a grade placement committee shall be established to prescribe the accelerated instruction the district shall provide to the student before the student is administered the assessment instrument the third time.”

And the parent is a member of this committee!  In other words, the school may not unilaterally send your kid to summer school for not passing STAAR.  A quick caution, there is no GPC process for grades 3, 4, 6 or 7.  If you get a summer school notice in those grades you will need to either protest and reach a new agreement with the school, exercise your 26.010 opt out rights, or withdraw your child from the school for the summer.

It is apparent based on parental reports that most schools are skipping the GPC meeting after the second administration and sending out summer school notices. So what should the strategy be for parents who are receiving these notices.  The first option would be to request your GPC meeting as soon as the second STAAR assessment is taken and come up with an agreeable Accelerated Instruction plan.  Since there is no required time, length, form or content of accelerated instruction, I recommend that parents propose a short home based or online program.  The more research you have done into what a plan like this would look like, the better chance you have of succeeding.  The school just needs to document their file for the state.  The more you help them do that, the better chance they agree.  The second option would be to simply ignore it.  Any accelerated instruction plan following the second assessment that is created by the school and not by the GPC is legally void.  Make sure that you are looking carefully for notices and do not miss the meeting if your school schedules one.  If you ignore the notice of the GPC meeting, the school can proceed without you.

Finally, please note that when the GPC meets to consider promotion, they are again required to prescribe accelerated instruction.  Further, for 5th and 8th graders note that “A student who fails to perform satisfactorily on an assessment instrument specified under Subsection (a) and who is promoted to the next grade level must complete accelerated instruction required under Subsection (a-1) before placement in the next grade level. A student who fails to complete required accelerated instruction may not be promoted.”  For this reason, it is dangerous to refuse the accelerated instruction that follows the first failed attempt.  It is very important that the parents and the school agree on what that accelerated instruction should be.  Make sure that when you refuse, the schools agreement is specifically phrased as an agreement on accelerated instruction – not just an exemption or excuse.  Again, accelerated instruction can be as simple as a single online lesson or one in school tutorial.  Whatever it is, make sure it is documented and agreed.

Categories
STAAR | EOC Testing

Texas Children Deserve Better


by Jennifer Rumsey
March 24, 2016

special to txedrights.net

It’s that time again. Time for STAAR testing in Texas. STAAR is the legislatively mandated series of high-stakes tests for public school children in Texas, and it is the most recent and most difficult of several testing program iterations that began in the 1980’s. I have been a Texas public school teacher since 1999. I have experienced TAAS, TAAS prep, TAAS workbooks, TAAS-aligned textbooks, TAAS packets, and even a TAAS pep rally.

Once students’ statewide overall scores became pretty high, the legislature made the costly move (paid to Pearson) to TAKS. The public schools adjusted: we adopted TAKS-aligned textbooks (published by Pearson), bought TAKS workbooks, held TAKS bootcamps and tutorials. During this time, the lawmakers instilled the Student Success Initiative (SSI), claiming that 5th and 8th grade students would “benefit” by being required to pass the TAKS reading and math tests. If students don’t pass, don’t worry…they “get” two more tries to pass the tests. But if they fail it repeatedly, these children can be retained in grade. Nevermind that research shows that students who are retained are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and to dropout of high school.

And then there was STAAR, the most ambitious testing program yet. The Texas legislature decided to gut public education funding that year, 2011. The cuts amounted to a loss of$5.4 billion, while they voted to create STAAR and pay Pearson $500,000,000.00. At first adoption, high school students were required to pass 15 End of Course exams to graduate. Now, thanks to grassroots efforts to change excessive testing requirements, high school students only take 5 graduation exams. However, their future life success remains impacted by rules that they must pass these exams to graduate, even with their Carnegie credits earned.

Tuesday my freshmen students must take the 5 hour English I End of Course Exam. I will be one of the lucky test administrators. During one of my test administration trainings, I found out that I am now required to write down the name of each student who leaves the testing room to use the bathroom, the time the student leaves, and the time that they return. This information, along with a seating chart, will be turned in to the Texas Education Agency. I am not sure why. Is it an additional measure of control over the students? Is it an additional measure of control over myself and other education professionals? Is it a deliberate attempt at de-professionalization of educators? When I mentioned to my students that I had to keep track of their times in and out from the restroom, they were puzzled and irritated. One savvy freshman girl asked, “Do they want to know the stall I used also?”

What I do know for sure is that these tests have become far too important. They are treated as top secret, national security-level documents. Why is the material in a standardized test treated as more confidential than the information in the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails? I have already signed my oath, and in my test administrator’s manual I am threatened with the loss of my hard-earned professional certification if I share information relating to what is on the test. I am cautioned to in no way purposely view the tests. Ironically, I am allowed to read the writing prompt to a student who requests it… My students are asked to sign an honor statement as well about not sharing the test material. During the five-hour testing block, I must “actively monitor” the students in my room, making sure they don’t cheat, don’t forget to bubble their answer document, don’t sleep. In the past, I have been warned that I am in not allowed to sit down during this all-important monitoring session. I may not read or write anything. I may only monitor, monitor, monitor, resting only on a “perch” of a stool for a short while before getting back up and walking the silent room filled with stressed students whose self-worth depends on their bubbled answers.

Tuesday is a big day for my little family. If my daughter doesn’t pass the math STAAR test, she will face the possible future of retention in fifth grade. My 10-year-old daughter is one of the unlucky guinea pig fifth graders in the state of Texas. My sweetie is a captive of the Student Success Initiative and one of the unlucky children impacted by a State Board of Education decision from 2015 that “pushed down” developmentally inappropriate math TEKS objectives. Some of the newly required 5th grade material was, until 2015, not taught until the children were in the 7th grade. What does this “pushing down” of objectives do? It requires more material to be taught during the school year, stealing valuable time that math teachers need to teach the foundational material for that year. It makes math harder and more rushed for the children. It is wrong. The TEA suspended the math passing requirements for 5th graders last year. But not so this year. Nope. My child and her peers must pass this test or face retention in grade. And wait, the news just gets better. The outgoing Commissioner of Education announced near his departure that, “STAAR performance standards have been scheduled to move to the more rigorous phase-in 2 passing standard this school year. Each time the performance standard is increased, a student must achieve a higher score in order to pass a STAAR exam” (http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Press_Releases/2015/Commissioner_Williams_announces_STAAR_performance_standards_for_2015-2016_and_beyond/).
Thus, my daughter and all her little 10 and 11 year old friends are being held accountable for inappropriate math standards and will be judged at a higher performance standard at the same time. Something is not right here. Something is very, very wrong. My child is not a subject to be experimented on.

While my child is held to harder performance standards, the TEA has failed to comply with laws passed this legislative session. The 2015 legislature passed HB 743, and Governor Abbott signed it into law. This law requires that the TEA redesign STAAR assessments in grades 3-5 so that 85% of children testing can complete them in two hours. Currently, the assessments are four hours in length, far too long. The TEA has not shortened the tests for this year, ignoring the law. Why is my 10 year old held to higher performance standards on developmentally inappropriate math objectives, threatened with grade retention if she fails, but the TEA is getting away with ignoring the law? In my view, this refusal to follow the law invalidates all test scores for all children in grades 3-5 this year.

Research shows that standardized tests are not a true measure of what a child knows. I can tell you that they are not any kind of measure of a child’s worth. The children in the state of Texas deserve better than to be over-tested and experimented on. I am an expert in the field of education. I am a professional. I am a teacher. I know when my students are learning. I love seeing the light in their eyes when they have mastered a difficult concept, the excitement on their faces when they ask if they can continue reading a novel that they truly enjoy, the beauty in their smiles when I praise their successes. As far as being accountable, all teachers are accountable. We always have been. We are accountable to the children in our care, the children who become ours for a year, the ones we listen to when they are sad, the ones we feed when they are hungry, the ones we teach. It is time for the lawmakers and the TEA to be held accountable. Texas children are not subjects for your high-stakes experiments. They deserve better.