Tired of high-stakes standardized tests? Why your kids might see fewer of them

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Educators at Burleson Independent School District made a parody video of Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop this Feeling" in anticipation of the new school year.
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Educators at Burleson Independent School District made a parody video of Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop this Feeling" in anticipation of the new school year.

Fewer standardized tests for Texas students?

That’s what state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, wants to see.

That’s why Krause said he filed the Student Testing and Assessment Reform Act, which would cut down on the number of required STAAR tests — and the end-of-course tests high school students must take to graduate from high school.

“People are so fed up with the testing,” Krause said. “This lets local school districts assess students in the way they feel is best.

“Anything that gets us away from the ‘high stakes’ testing is great.”

STAAR tests are a series of standardized tests used to determine how much students have learned about various subjects in various grades. It includes math and reading tests for students in third through eighth grades, science in fifth and eighth grades, writing in fourth and seventh grades and social studies in eighth grade, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Krause’s House Bill 2113 calls for cutting out all STAAR tests that aren’t federally required, which includes removing writing tests in fourth and seventh grades and the social studies test required in eighth grade.

“It is imperative that our teachers focus on educating our students and not teaching to a test,” Krause said.

It also would no longer require high school students to take and pass end-of-course tests before they graduate.

Krause’s bill would end the tests students take to graduate for all those going into the ninth grade during the 2019-2020 school year.

In turn, it would let school districts use other options — such as SAT or ACT scores, or Texas approved assessment tests — to determine if students know what they need to know to move forward.

Keller school district officials were among those supporting the proposal.

“This bill is a great first step in the right direction,” Rick Westfall, superintendent of the Keller school district who worked with Krause on this bill, said in a statement. “Students deserve better than to be burdened by a barrage of state assessments.

“It provides students an opportunity to focus on exams that are already in place and can be used for studies after high school graduation.”

The Northwest school district also supports the bill.

“Northwest ISD appreciates Representative Krause filing this act,” the district stated in an email. “Overreliance on testing and accountability is one of NISD’s Legislative Priorities, and we support these initial steps to fix this issue.”

Discontent with “high stakes” tests has been growing in recent years. Parents and communities have questioned whether there is too much teaching to the tests. The tests are called “high stakes” because they can determine grade promotion, graduation, teacher effectiveness and whether schools should be taken over by the state.

In 2015, Arlington trustees approved and signed a resolution urging the Legislature to end high-stakes tests and allow the school boards to use their own accountability systems.

A recent Texas Monthly article questioned the fairness of the tests.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.
Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.