Legislature to examine standardized testing

Educators are looking forward to the 83rd Legislature as many educational issues are expected to be on the table, including vouchers and standardized tests.ã??

The State Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test is proving to be unpopular with school officials, parents and some lawmakers. Many agree the current system is broken.

Cindy Barnes, Director of Advising at West Texas A&M University says, "Weâ??ve about 42% of our Freshman class has been place in a developmental course or pre-college information before they can actually go into a credit course that would apply to a degree. Thatâ??s stunning to me. And it says somethingâ??s broke."ã??

Don Wood, Bushland Superintendent agrees. "The accountability system is broke. We all know itâ??s broke.I donâ??t like how itâ??s not only so confusing to school personnel, but parents." Wood wants the Legislature to consider something much more flexible for schools; for example, a system that has different measures for college-bound students as opposed to technical or trade focused students. ã??

The primary problem seems to be math. Barnes says, "Iâ??m not saying public school isnâ??t doing what theyâ??re supposed to do and Iâ??m not saying colleges are innocent because I donâ??t think we are. Not everyone wants to be an engineer and have that level of math. But when 42% of your incoming class are placed in a developmental course, thereâ??s a problem."ã??

Wood, however, says although thatâ??s statistically correct, statistics can be deceiving, especially when you compare different schools to schools in different countries. Universities argue grade inflation in High Schools makes it difficult to determine a true grasp of a discipline.ã??

Furthermore, the playing field is not always level, with many different schools in the state with various challenges. In the Legislature lawmakers have pre-filed bills detailing a number of testing approaches.