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Bills would Put a Hold on High-Stakes Consequences of STAAR Tests

Research has recently come to light showing that reading passages on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR tests, are one to three years above grade level.

Mary Hardin-Baylor Education Professor Jodi Pilgrim, one author of a 2016 study, testified that the school trains its teachers to avoid reading material that’s written at “frustration level”—where students don’t know 90 percent of the words. “If a passage is written one to three grade levels above their grade, then you’re more than likely frustrating some of these students,” Pilgrim said. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath assured the committee the test is valid, reliable, and on grade level.

Lawmakers filed bills in response to the testimony they heard to put a hold on the high-stakes consequences of STAAR (school closings, graduation requirements) until an outside investigator confirms that the tests are on grade level. A bill amendment requiring the Texas Auditor to review the third-grade STAAR test was passed by the Texas House. STAAR test results are used to determine district and campus accountability ratings.

Read or listen to “Are the STAAR Tests Too Hard? Critics Rally for a Closer Look,” by Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio.

April 10, 2019