Accountability STAAR | EOC Testing

Texas Republican Files Bill to Eliminate STAAR Uses

Website Article (CBS 7)

Odessa Republican Brooks Landgraf has filed HB 736 which would eliminate the use of STAAR for promotion, graduation and accountability purposes.  Stay tuned for information on how we can help!


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

Section 504 | Special Education STAAR | EOC Testing

The GPC Process – TEA Flowcharts

For parents of 5th and 8th graders who have opted out or failed STAAR, these flow charts show the process for determination of Accelerated Instruction and Promotion/Retention.

General Education Students (p. 8 of SSI Manual)

gpc process - gened

Special Education

For special education students, the ARD committee acts as the GPC. (p. 27 of SSI manual)

gpc for sped

STAAR | EOC Testing

No, You Don’t Have to Pass STAAR in 5th or 8th Grade

OK, so a mom from Kissam Elementary is being told that passing STAAR is required to go to 6th grade.  Let’s examine how we know this is not true.

First, search for the Academic Performance Report for your school from 2014-2015.  It is located here:

Academic Performance Report

The cover looks like this:


Now let’s look at the STAAR passage rate for 5th grade Reading, the only one that counted for SSI last year:


We can see that the failure rate for 5th grade reading last year was 23%.  Now if STAAR passage is required for promotion, then the retention rate in 5th grade would be 23%.  Basically 1 out of ever 4 kids would have to repeat 5th grade.  So let’s see what the Academic Performance report says about retention in the 5th grade:


We see that rather than a 23% retention rate, the actual rate was 0%.  (For full disclosure, 15% of special ed kids were retained, but that number gives total retention of about 1.3%, nowhere near the 23% that would be required is STAAR passage was necessary for promotion.

As you can see, every kid who appealed their retention to the GPC was promoted.


This is one example of many.  The idea that passing STAAR is required for promotion is utter nonsense.  Know the facts and arm yourself!

STAAR | EOC Testing

Midland ISD Threatens to Retain Students for Opt Out

We have received two reports of parents in the Midland ISD being threatened with retention of their child if they follow through on their opt out plans.  These students are not in 5th or 8th grade.  As a result, state law does not require passage of the STAAR for promotion to the next grade level.  In fact, after receiving these reports TPERN investigated the local board policies for Midland ISD.  Midland ISD policy EIE (Local) is clear:

In grades 1–8, promotion to the next grade level shall be based on an overall average of 70 on a scale of 100 based on course-level, grade-level standards (essential knowledge and skills) for English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

In other words, if you pass your core classes, you get promoted.  Period.  Other parts of the policy make it clear that Grade Level Advancement contingent on STAAR passage applies only to 5th and 8th grade students.  So why the threats?  First, some administrators believe parents are too stupid or too passive to push back against a threat to their child, even when that threat would require the school to ignore its own policies.  Second, the TEA and school district attorneys are warning districts that 2015 could see massive increases in Opt Out numbers.  Rather than address the underlying issue, or seek reconciliation with district parents and taxpayers, the path of confrontation, threats and intimidation is being recommended to school districts.  Clearly, school district lawyers will benefit from this by generating more work and legal fees.  The reason for their recommendation is bathed in self-interest.  It is less clear why a school district led by elected trustees would feel fighting and threatening your constituents — to the extent of stating that the district will ignore its own policies — is good stewardship.

Parents looking to opt out of STAAR assessment should be prepared to critically examine every reason, excuse or threat given by the school district.  In particular please report any threats to retain students using our Incident Report form.  In many cases, the schools simply parrot the self-interested advice given to them by the TEA or their attorneys.  As seen by the Midland ISD example, these threats are often false and hollow.  What a sad state of affairs that lying and threatening parents and kids for data collection is seen as acceptable behavior.  But what a powerful testimony to the real strength of the opt out movement.  Stand your ground.  Change is coming!

STAAR | EOC Testing

TEA Publishes Misleading SSI Document

We have recently been made aware of a document published by the TEA that implies that 5th and 8th graders who do not pass STAAR reading and mathematics exams cannot be promoted.  This piece of test propaganda completely omits the promotion process created by law by the Texas Legislature, that permits a Grade Placement Committee to make an individualized promotion decision on any child who has not taken or passed the STAAR reading or mathematics examination.  This omission is clearly designed to pressure parents into assenting to STAAR testing that they may feel unnecessary or detrimental to the education of their children.  We call upon the Texas Education Agency to withdraw this document from public use and include factual information on promotion paths on any future publications.

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Not the whole story