Testing, deferred
Concerns over STAAR implementation lead to temporary change

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott announced in February that he is officially deferring implementation of a rule requiring that high school students’ scores on the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) end-of-course (EOC) exams count for at least 15 percent of their final grade for the course. The move is a response to growing concerns about the implementation of the new testing system.

The issue was the first agenda item at the House Public Education Committee’s first hearing of the interim Jan. 23. The hearing featured a panel of Texas Education Agency (TEA) officials discussing the implementation of the STAAR program and high school EOC exams. The discussion quickly turned to concerns over the fact that little or no state guidance exists for how districts should convert the EOC score into a course grade, given the variety of ways in which that grade could affect a student’s GPA and class rank. The hearing also featured impassioned testimony from school officials and parents concerned about the transition to the more challenging tests.

The hearing led to Scott’s calling the state’s standardized testing system a “perversion of its original intent.” Regardless, TEA, of which Scott is the head, rejected pleas to delay the implementation of the grading policy; TEA officials said that they did not believe the agency had the legal authority to do so. In response, Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Sen. Florence Shapiro (R–Plano), along with fellow committee members Sen. Royce West (D–Dallas), Sen. Dan Patrick (R–Houston) and Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo), sent a letter of intent to TEA stating support of a waiver of the 15 percent rule for the 2011-12 school year. In response to this statement, Scott officially delayed the policy; however, the letter made it clear that this is a temporary delay and that test scores should still be a factor in determining students’ final grades.

The fact that state standardized testing is receiving so much attention at this point in the interim is a strong indicator that it is an issue likely to be revisited during the next legislative session. ATPE will continue to follow the committee’s progress and will report on any pertinent developments.

Questions? Contact ATPE Governmental Relations.

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Essentials contains legislative advertising contracted for by Doug Rogers, Executive Director, Association of Texas Professional Educators, 305 E. Huntland Dr., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78752-3792, representing ATPE.

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