By Branden Swartz | News Editor
With the May 2013 reduction of testing requirements, Texas students are finding that they will have to take fewer STAAR tests than their predecessors. According to the Texas Board of Education, STAAR testing was reduced due to the fact that it was overly extensive, and made it difficult for districts to comply with the standards. In spite of this, it appears that the real reason the number of tests was reduced from 15 to five because of horrible passing rates for the first few rounds of STAAR testing.
As many as one in four high school students were failing the requirements, with as many as 24 percent of students graduating in 2015 estimated to fail. For example, 76 percent of students failed the English I Writing test in 2012, and less than 50 percent of students passed the other four major tests, according to the Texas Education Agency.
These failure rates are inexcusable, and more testing should be called for, rather than less. As it stands, students should be tested harder and more often, not less. This sweeping reduction of testing is nothing more than a political move, designed to make politicians and the education board look better. Educational standards, not testing, should be improved, making courses more rigid and strict, or the STAAR standard should be seriously re-evaluated.
Failure rates for STAAR tests and this recent reform reveal the cold and hard truth behind the teaching methods that have been used both for STAAR and its precursor, TAKS. Students are either not being taught well enough to properly take the test, or STAAR needs to be re-evaluated.
76 percent of students failing in a single class at the same time points in two directions. Either teachers are failing to do their jobs, and are not teaching enough, or the state of Texas and its board of education are grossly incompetent, as evidenced by the statistics shown above.
These reforms serve as a political ploy to save face, and do not address the real problem at hand. Improving academic standards and making education a more rigid process and the re-evaluation of the STAAR test should be taking the place of this reform, rather than making it easier for students. With these changes, failure rates will be reduced, and Texas, its board of education and STAAR testing will be viewed as far more successful than they really are.