In reading this story about the flood of legislation being filed to scale back or defer the STAAR tests, I am struck, but not surprised, by the genesis of this activity.
The clamor for change may have more to do with who’s finally speaking up, said Patricia López, a research associate at the Texas Center for Education Policy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Advocacy groups long have pointed out that standardized tests disproportionately hurt poor and minority students but the backlash has grown powerful and received more media attention because some aspects of STAAR “get really personal” with other populations, she said.
STAAR requirements impact high school seniors’ graduation plans and class rank in ways that its predecessor, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS, never did — directly affecting a more affluent demographic of students and parents, she said.
“When you think about our old system, it was just about passing, and really the only kids that had to worry about that were the kids that were struggling,” said Arlene Williams, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the San Antonio area’s Southwest Independent School District.
Under STAAR, even “your high fliers” could be set back, agreed Southwest’s superintendent, Lloyd Verstuyft.
Nothing’s real until it affects middle class white people, am I right? Sure is funny how these things work. The attention to the potential negative effects of the STAAR test and the recent bouts of sanity concerning it are welcome, but I just have to shake my head at what it finally took to make it happen.