San Antonio Express News,
This is an opinion from (Student's Name) about the current method of testing in Texas schools that is affecting the future of students in this state. Thank you for the opportunity to express this issues that highly impacts the quality of education in this State.
The Case for the Eradication of STAARS as a means of Testing Students in Texas
Take a moment to look back at your 11-year-old self. Imagine having tests at the end of every course you ever took to determine your achievement. Think about how your life revolves around tests and nothing more. The situation is that of students in Texas who have to undergo standardized testing for every course they take. The state of Texas implemented the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) testing that consists of standardized examination for students. The system seeks to test the achievement of students on a grade-based level. Every time a student completes a course, they are supposed to take the STAAR test that speaks of their competence and overall performance (Chapa & Leon, 2014). While some argue that this form of testing enhances the performance of students, there are many problems that it presents and thus needs to be repealed. For instance, STAAR creates too much emphasis on standardized testing. In this case, students have to take these tests repeatedly and do not advance to the next stage when they fail. They have to pass all their courses to have an opportunity to acquire a high school diploma. In this system, one test could determine the future of a student and their failure would be monumental to their college admission (Chapa & Leon, 2014). The students face a lot of pressure incessantly as they have to take numerous tests in every grade. The situation prevents creativity and inhibits student achievement that is premised on unique needs (Fowler, 2015). The students do not learn because they are always under pressure and simply adjust to standard tests as opposed to being open to developing knowledge and skills. The system is too reliant on test scores that do not reflect student abilities and prevent room for their growth.
The situation is especially difficult for minorities and more specifically Hispanics. Research indicates extreme gaps between the performances of whites in STAAR when compared to their Hispanic counterparts. Close to 60% of Hispanic students perform poorly in language and writing (Fowler, 2015). More than 40% of Hispanics fail these tests when compared to less than 20% of white students (Fowler, 2015). Some socioeconomic factors contribute to these low performances among students from the Hispanic populace. For instance, many emanate from low-income backgrounds and may lack the resources that contribute to good performances. Others have low language proficiency while some face impacts from unstable families and the lack of a supportive system (Sahin, et al, 2017). Most minorities also belong to schools that have high teacher turnovers that prevent them from having the same comprehension levels as white students. Therefore, all these students have different needs that make it preposterous to subject them to the same standardized tests. The achievement gap exists because the tests do not factor in these socioeconomic factors that present unique needs among different groups of students in Texas.
Everyone in Texas and beyond should be very concerned about the form of testing in these states because of the impact it has on these students. I believe that it is our responsibility to stand up for these young minds and ensure they have a impact on the society in the years to come. They are our next generation and should use education to solve real-life problems in the society. How then can this be possible when all they do in school is study for exams? How is it possible to give rise to creative minds when they cannot think outside of standardized tests? More importantly, the principles of social justice demand for quality in the society. Social justice speaks of the need for equality as an aspect that promotes the progress in the society (Chapa, et al, 2016). However, this form of equality is not possible when the system marginalizes minorities by having a testing method that alienates them. Everyone should care because these aspects prevent progress in the society and are the source for the lack of solutions to problems. It is ironic that the testing to which students are subjected is what prevents the ultimate goal of education from being realized. Social work places emphasis on the role of education in a transformed society. The testing in Texas prevents education from attaining this role because of the impacts it has.
Therefore, I propose the eradication of STAARS and replacement with a portfolio-based system testing. Every test needs to have a set objective that the teacher tailors on the needs of the students. For instance, a teacher may have a portfolio of a student that showcases a weakness in writing. The teacher can set goals with the student and address their weaknesses using reflection tests and ones that are specifically designed to their strengths and weaknesses (Chapa et al, 2017). The tests should only be used to determine progress as opposed to performance. They should emanate from the work that the teacher and students have build throughout a particular course as per the portfolio of every student. The teacher should set goals and test whether or not the student meets them as opposed to initiating a one-size-fits-all situation (Kostyuk et al, 2018). The state of Texas should invest in these schools with adequate funding to enable an addition of teachers who are dedicated to working with students according to their unique needs and ensuring the tests reflect the same.
Chapa, M., & Leon, G. D. (2014). College Readiness. Research in Higher Education Journal, 25.
Chapa, M., Kupczynski, L., Mundy, M. A., & Gibson, A. M. (2016). Academic Success and College Readiness: A Study of Predominantly Hispanic Students in South Texas High Schools. World Journal of Educational Research, 3(2), 342.
Fowler, T. W. (2015). Comparison of Process Student Expectations Across Content Area STAAR Examinations. The Journal of the Effective Schools Project, 22, 19-22.
Kostyuk, V., Almeda, M. V., & Baker, R. S. (2018). Correlating Affect and Behavior in Reasoning Mind with State Test Achievement.
Sahin, A., Almus, K., & Wilson, V. (2017). Comparisons of State Test Performances of Public and A Charter School System in Old and New Testing in Texas. Journal of STEM Education, 18(4).
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