Editorials

Gold star for new STAAR student ‘report cards’

STAAR Camp teacher Nicole Woolridge, left, listens as 7th and 8th grade students read from a text at Meadowbrook Middle School (Fort Worth ISD)in 2015.
STAAR Camp teacher Nicole Woolridge, left, listens as 7th and 8th grade students read from a text at Meadowbrook Middle School (Fort Worth ISD)in 2015. Special to the Star-Telegram

It’s STAAR report card time, but this year parents might actually understand it.

The Texas Education Agency has rolled out a significantly easier-to-understand report card.

Instead of the one-page, jargon-filled report, parents will get a leaflet that illustrates their kid’s progress in easy-to-understand terms. Instead of the old report’s “Level III: Advanced Academic Performance,” the new report translates that into “meets” or “masters” grade level in a subject.

The new STAAR report cards “put things in context,” state Education Commissioner Mike Morath told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board on Wednesday.

They rolled out earlier this month for high school students, and Friday for third through eighth grades.

Morath said it would demystify the STAAR tests, and help parents understand why they are administered. The report card will even provide a code so parents can look at their kid’s STAAR reading or math tests — the rest are expected to roll out in the coming year — and see why the question was asked and how their child answered it.

Along with the easier-to-understand results, the card gives a percentile average for the student to judge where he or she falls in his or her grade and shows expected growth, grade to grade, and recommended books for students.

But the best part is that it shows how parents can help their children grow and become even more successful. It arms parents with a full understanding of where a child needs improvement. It even lists questions for parents to ask teachers.

These new report cards are a convincing argument of why students should take the STAAR tests every year.

The STAAR test has a storied, complaint-riddled past. It’s been accused of being too hard, taking away too much time from the curriculum, and not measuring progress.

The STAAR results “aren’t perfect predictors, but meaningful predictors,” Morath said. “They tell us something that is deeply important.”

He’s right. Unlike the SAT word and math problems, the STAAR test measures a student’s progress from each grade.

“We are in the growth business,” he said.

The STAAR is “not some magical beast,” he said.

These new report cards show that.

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