The State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) is an assessment program developed by many stakeholders in the education sector for students who are in the third grade to grade eight before they have entered high school.
This program is replaces the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). In order to conform to the national and international assessment standards, the state of Texas has developed texts which are standardized. They are of two categories and they include the criterion referenced and the norm referenced. This paper helps to explain the validity of the test, its purpose and its effect on the funding mechanism to other districts.
There are many reasons as to why the test is replacing the other tests. To begin with, the other tests are norm referenced. This means that they compare the performance of a specific student against other students. For instance, the student’s results are compared in three categories; above average, on average and below average depending on the number of students in the class.
The performance of the student is thus limited to the classroom level at the expense of the other students who are in other schools. This also locks many students out of high school opportunities due to poor performance in their specific schools. In addition, many schools in Texas are not fully prepared to enter middle level schools due to the poor examination standards (Texas test prep practice test book, 2011).
Secondly, the main purpose of having STAAR is to ensure that the student’s performance has been compared against a standard. Being a criterion based examination, STAAR holds each student accountable for failing to meet the accepted standard. The test is also meant to ensure that the student’s performance has been tested against the available standards of the curriculum.
It thus replaces the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each grade. The Texas Education Agency planned to ensure that by the year 2030 every state will have reviewed its standards in order to determine the assessed objectives.
Many people such as parents and teachers are opposed to the STAAR tests with reasons such as that the students may fail the examinations because they are harder than the TAKS. The parents are on the other hand oblivious of the fact that the examinations will be of high standards.
The purpose for having achieved this standard is to ensure that the student’s performance has been compared against the general standards of the state. Moreover, the STAAR will be more rigorous and standard than any other test in the history of Texas. The examinations will be based on accountability system for the students and the teachers to test whether the students have accomplished a specific task (Bessette, 2011).
Career and college readiness is also the other objective making of the STAAR. Although the focus of the other tests was ensuring that students passed the internal tests and that they were above average. These tests are different in that they test the student’s knowledge and skills and focus on preparing the students for the future.
STAAR thus presents a comprehensive program which incorporates the internal standards of the state with the international standards of student preparedness. Although the committee for test preparation considered improvement of the standards, it also sought the chance to make education in Texas to be of high quality (Pugh, 2007).
There are many changes which will be reviewed in the new programs for examination testing and these include the increased assessment for many grades. This will be done by increasing more useful and important items which will be used to ensure that the general skills and knowledge for the students has been tested.
This kind of tests will also be of high standard than the TAKS due to the fact that more rigorous items will have been increased. Apparently, not only will the student’s performance be tested but the skill acquisition level will also be tested in this new tests. Higher level of competence will also be required so as to ensure that students pass these tests to their maximum requirements (Brown, 2010).
There is also a general misconception that the STAAR funding will be higher than the TAKS but the reality is that the funding will be much reduced. This means that the other states will receive sufficient funds for their welfare and also ensure that there are enough resources to support the education sector.
This is because the testing will be done for students who are grade 8 and this won’t be done in many times a year thus cutting down the imminent costs of funding the educational activities. Furthermore, the committee has also proposed software which helps to mark the examination thus ensuring that the human labor is reduced when allocating marks for the students.
In order to have quality achievement as a goal in preparation of the STAAR, the Texas Educational Agency (TEA) has stated that the new tests will be longer and that they will require high level thinking than any other test in the history of education. There will be open ended questions which will give students a platform to answering without having to choose from specified choices.
Proficiency of grammatical knowledge will thus help the students to answer the tests using their own knowledge as they have covered in the curriculum. In addition, there will be less time allocated for each question and this makes the tests tougher than even the TAKS (Pugh, 2007).
There are many critics to the STAAR test starting with the teachers, students, parents and even the teachers unions. This is because they believe that the new tests will be the end of the course examinations which are done in the system of the TAKS.
On the other hand, they do not understand that the examinations are based on the scores which are cumulative over the years from sophomores to upperclassmen who finish their eighth grades. Despite of the increasing criticism against the tests, all the stakeholders should be taught that the new examinations will help to improve the educational standards in Texas and increase student motivation as they bridge to colleges from high school (Brown, 2010).
In conclusion, STAAR is a new examination program which has been developed by the Texas Educational Agency to replace the existing program- the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). STAAR is a criterion based test and this means that the student’s performance are compared against the general education standards in Texas.
Although STAAR are tougher than any other form of examination, they test the students on their college preparedness and also help to conform to the national and international standards. To sum up, the long term objective of the STAAR is career and college readiness.
Bessette, Joseph M. (2011). American Government and Politics: Deliberation, Democracy and Citizenship, Texas Edition. Wadsworth Pub Co.
Brown, L. C. (2010). Practicing Texas politics. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Pugh, S. M. (2007). TAKS Texas high school social studies exit exam. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series. Texas test prep practice test book: Grade 4. (2011). United States: Test Master Press.