STAAR – Aaargh!


We  just finished with the first two days of STAAR testing. I hate it! I don’t like the test itself, but I really don’t like sitting around for four hours watching the kids try to pass these tests. Boring!

But beyond that the idea that one day on a year we see how much a child knows seems grossly unfair to  the student.  What if that child has a bad morning, doesn’t feel well or just doesn’t feel like sitting in a chair for four hours that day and taking a test.

Before you say, “Hey the whole world takes tests to prove what they know.  Take doctors and lawyer and event the lowly teacher.  They all take tests.”  Yes true, but they choose those tests and are motivated to take them.  I can promise you that most of my students were not motivated to take the tests this week.  I know I wasn’t motivated to give them!

So we take these tests that someone in Austin has said we need to take (who most likely couldn’t pass the test themselves) to prove how much we know.  And let’s make sure we judge the teacher by the number of students who pass.  Fair?  No! Why?  Let me give you an example:

I teach the GT and Pre AP students.  90 percent of my students will pass, probably more, maybe even 100 percent.  My wife teaches math and she teaches the students who are, well lets just say they are not the top level students.  She will have a low passing score.  Her students have not done well on tests, and especially math tests.  Most of her students are below grade level and struggle.  Now if you looked at her scores versus mine and knew nothing of the students we taught, then you would assume I am a good teacher and she is a poor teacher.  But is this true?  Of course not, the students we have often dictate how “successful” we are as teachers.

But there is another way to measure teacher performance, a better way in my opinion. Measure how much growth each student has.  If I get a student who regresses during the year, but still passes the test, have I done a good job?  But if my wife has a student a student who improves 50 percent during the year, but doesn’t pass the test, is she a bad teacher?  Of course not, she has done the better job of teaching than I did in my example.

But don’t try to tell our political and educational leaders this, they love numbers, simple numbers.  What do you think?  I would love to hear, until next time, peace.


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