Texas Senate to review STAAR testing program

Author: Stephanie Serna, Reporter, sserna@ksat.com
Published On: Jan 31 2013 06:19:06 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 31 2013 06:35:47 PM CST

School districts may soon get to decide just how much the state's STAAR exam results would count toward high school students grades.

On Thursday, the Education Committee referred the measure to the full Texas Senate.

Democratic Texas Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Republican Rep. Diane Patrick have filed several bills to overhaul the state's testing and accountability system.

The changes the lawmakers are pushing for would include eliminating the state's 15 percent rule, suspending the 2012-2013 state accountability ratings and reduce the number of state standardized test from 15 to three.

"What was happening, though, is that the accountably system was very rigid, very stoic, very constrictive," said Van dDe Putte. "So it measured success on one day of the year for one student."

Lucinda Garcia, a parent with two students in high school, said she understands that testing is important. But she said this past year, state testing has been too much for her daughter and that her daughter has even been experiencing anxiety.

"I think the testing is really, really hard for the children," said Garcia. "There's a lot of testing going on. There's a lot of pressure."

Under the current law, students who fail to pass the standardized tests are required to have remediation, but there's no state funding for that and last summer, the Northside Independent School District alone had to spend more than $650,000 on getting remedial students caught up.

"It's not that any of us have a problem with students that are struggling," said Northside ISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods. "We got cut a lot in the last legislative session, and now you have another mandate that school districts have to follow."

However, Woods said he believes reducing the amount of testing would be a good first step.

"In my way of thinking, this is very positive for schools (and) very positive for students that we roll back the amount of testing that students are subjected to," said Woods. "And really, let teachers do the important work of teaching."