Well, today is the first day of the Spring 2018 STAAR testing cycle. This always begins a bit of a sad and frustrating time as an educator. This is the point of the year where our legislators, in their infinite wisdom, begin their assault on student self-worth and value. It’s the time where the state decides to judge the intellectual value of each child based on one test, on one day, with disingenuous and ill-designed assessments. It also creates the data they’ll use to assign haphazard letter grades of A-F on districts as if test scores are the be all-end all way to measure educational system effectiveness. This war, and my required participation in it, on the dignity of students is the worst part of my job as a public educator!
We have legislators who design accountability standards they were never held to when they were in school all the while they’ve allowed learning standards to be shoved further and further down system to where we have 3rd and 4th graders being held accountable for what junior high and high school students were expected to learn 20 and 30 years ago. They give educators dozens and dozens of learning standards to teach at a level of depth and complexity that is unrealistic and unreasonable. To top it off, they make students with intellectual special needs take the same exact test non-disabled students do AND perform on the test at the same passing standard. This is insane and immoral!
We see protests across this nation (gun rights, abortion, teacher pay, the president) but until parents and educators unite to say “No more of this nonsense!”, we’ll unfortunately continue to be pawns in this political game of “public school accountability.” It’s time to give back accountability to local districts and trust the PROFESSIONAL educators to develop systems to measure student progress and performance. They know the students, the care and love for the students, and they want what is best for the students. It is clear our state lawmakers do not have those same goals or else they’d address this ridiculous accountability system we have in place and put the dignity, self-worth, and intellectual development of students ahead of political rhetoric that tries to conflate absurd accountability laws with student learning.
BTW, students have a great day and trust your training and learning all year and do your very best. Your teachers and administrators (and parents) love you, believe in you, and we know this one test on one day in one year does not define you nor will it condemn you (if we have anything to say about it).