State rep wants to scrap the STAAR

Texas is still a few months away from another round of STAAR tests. The standardized test given to public school students came under fire in late March after thousands of tests were compromised due to computer glitches.

The Texas Education Agency had promised to fine the test’s vendor, E.T.S. for problems . (Last Tuesday, the T.E.A. announced E.T.S. would be  fined roughly twenty-million dollars). But many parents and teachers say that’s not enough.

Now they seem to have a political ally in Republican State Representative Jason Isaac. Isaac is proposing to create a “free-market” for districts to choose the vendor they’d like to use to issue standardized tests to students. “It would open up markets, create competition.”

Parents who spoke to FOX 7 agreed with Isaac’s that change is necessary in order to have a more productive testing environment for children and teachers. And Isaac offers this perspective before and after the STAAR was implemented, “before STAAR, teachers told me they spent 27 days preparing for kids,” he says about testing, adding, “now with STAAR they are telling me it's 46 days of classroom preparation.”

Former teacher Rachel Lauderdale agrees with making changes but she questioned whether Isaac’s proposed plan would create an unfair advantage for schools that chose an “easier test.” She says, wondering if schools, “would make their progress look better by maybe a lower test or something like that.” And she adds, I would just want to see basically that all of the tests are comparable and there wasn't one that was supposed to be better and funded more highly than if they chose a different test.”

Isaac says not many vendors currently make tests that meet Texas’ or the Federal Government’s educational testing requirements. But, he says, if the law is passed, “you open up this market, these test companies are going to produce something that does satisfy those requirements, and meets our TEKS, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and would still be nationally norm standardized test.”

Isaac says says he will propose his bill during the 85th legislative session which is scheduled to starts in January 2017. FOX 7 reached out to the Texas Education Agency for  comment on the plan. In an email response, a spokesperson says, “The TEA does not comment on proposed legislation.”