The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Education May Be Getting too Complicated

on March 25, 2019

Today’s piece is about government expectations for students in the state of Texas. I must confess that I had to read the article three times before fully understanding the situation described. But I think that readers will get my description of what is happening in Texas schools and its results.

Two weeks ago a New York Times article focused on the situation of a nine year old girl named Kristin, who had been doing very well at school. At home she also read a lot, even some books that were quite difficult. But at the end of the last school year her school gave Kristin’s class a new test called “The State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness” or “STAAR”, that judged her and many other students in schools across the state as reading “below grade level”. Such a marking indicated that those students had not met grade level expectations and, therefore, needed to receive “extra help” in reading the following year. The problem with that decision was that Kristin, and others who received it, would be set apart from their regular classmates for reading instruction, and might also miss their regular classes of art or music. For those children–and their parents–such a situation would be very undesirable.

As one might expect, scores of parents protested strongly when those decisions were announced and continued protesting. But the Texas Education Agency stood rigidly behind the test results, insisting that the interpretations of test scores were accurate and supported by research.

Over this school year the situation has changed for the worse. Although reading experts outside of Texas expressed criticism of the test results, saying that those students might very well be better readers than they were judged, the Texas Education Agency would not budge. They insisted that the test questions had been approved by a panel of teachers and field-tested by Texas students beforehand.

All I’ve described on this page may have seemed not worth reading because of so many details about the test given to young children and how it affected them. But the New York Times gave it a whole front page in one of the paper’s main sections. Perhaps they wanted their readers who care about educational quality and fairness to be angered by the stupidity and cruelty of the Texas system. I was. Were you?



2 responses to “Education May Be Getting too Complicated

  1. Helen says:

    A student’s needs and program placement should be made by the child’s teachers in conjunction with the parents and not be determined by the results of a single test.


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