STAAR Implementation Placed on Hold

Posted by Randy Paine, on Fri March 02 2012 at 05:18 PM

What a difference a few months and a retirement decision can make. State education leaders, both appointed and elected, have mutually decided to put a hold on how the first year of the state’s new testing system in public schools will be counted toward graduation requirements. In short, it won’t.

During the 82nd legislative session, over the objections of business organizations, the Texas House twice passed bills to delay for a year – a few members wanted the delay to be forever – implementation of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test, arguing there wasn’t enough time or money for school districts to switch from the outgoing and much maligned TAKS testing.

Both times, those bills died because they ran straight into Senator Florence Shapiro, a Plano Republican and chair of the Senate Education Committee. Shapiro led the effort to switch to end of course exams and increase rigor in the state’s public schools, and she made sure the House effort to ditch the tests never came to a vote on the Senate floor.

Now, however, with Education Commissioner Robert Scott publicly challenging the state’s testing culture, Shapiro has joined the critics and agreed that for the current school year, the test results do not have to count in graduation assessments. They were already not going to be used to assess the performance of school districts, so from the beginning there had been an outcry over holding students to a standard the districts were not being held to. Shapiro has announced she will not seek re-election, leaving a void in the Senate – or at least among Republicans in the Senate – without a strong, committed advocate for public schools.

For another take on the issue, click here.

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