Raise Your Hand Texas Recommends Reining in State's STAAR Test, Reforming Public Education Accountability System

It’s Time to Support KIDS When It Comes to School Accountability

AUSTIN, Texas, February 08, 2023--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Raise Your Hand Texas and community leaders across the state are calling on lawmakers to support Texas kids and make much-needed reforms to the state’s STAAR test and add additional indicators to the public school accountability system. Statewide press events will take place throughout February in eight cities.

"Our students are more than one test on one day," said Dr. Libby Cohen, senior director of advocacy for Raise Your Hand Texas. "A single test should not be the sole indicator of school and student performance. Let’s seize the opportunity to craft a world-class accountability and testing system, one that supports our kids and provides a more complete picture of our students, our teachers, and our schools."

Our current A-F school district and campus ratings system needs to be updated this legislative session to support kids across the state. Any new accountability plan should follow these basic principles for KIDS:

Knowledge for parents and community members

  • A single letter grade tells an incomplete story to families, educators, businesses, and community members.

  • We need multiple letter grades reflecting different kinds of work to give communities better insight into a school's areas of strength and areas for growth rather than a single summative score.

Indicators beyond the test

  • Add additional indicators to our accountability system, especially at the elementary and middle school levels, that reflect work we know contributes to positive long-term outcomes for students.

De-emphasize STAAR

  • STAAR test results should only count for up to 50% of the overall score in the state’s accountability ratings system.

  • Eliminate tests that are not required by federal law, including the 8th grade Social Studies STAAR test, the U.S History STAAR EOC exam, and the English II STAAR EOC exam.

Seek feedback

  • The voices of the people they ultimately serve—parents, students, and local stakeholders, including private industry partners—should all be represented as districts seek to understand where they are succeeding and where they need to improve.

  • Families want to know if their children feel safe, secure, and engaged at school. Including a student safety and school climate survey can help to provide this insight.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) currently grades Texas public schools on an A-F scale. However, for elementary and middle school campuses, the only element they are graded on is their students’ STAAR test scores.

Policy recommendations for this KIDS-centered reform of school accountability and testing is drawn from A Report from the Measure What Matters Assessment & Accountability Council. The Report reflects more than a year of statewide community conversations, data collection, analysis, surveys, and research.

"We strongly believe that a meaningful accountability system looks at the whole child and school, not just a single test on one day," said Cohen. "To do what is best for students, we must identify what actions matter most inside our schools and ensure they are reflected in our accountability system. To do what is best for teachers, we must allow sufficient time and flexibility in our classrooms for them to deploy their expertise. Doing so means we will move closer to the mark of doing what is best for the future of Texas."

Educators, administrators, parents, and community members have voiced concerns over the current testing and accountability system.

"Texas has the opportunity to lead once again in developing a world-class public education testing and accountability system," said Dr. Michelle Smith, executive director of Raise Your Hand Texas. "Let’s seize this moment for our kids and for the Texas of tomorrow."

Statewide Press Events will be held in the following cities:

  • El Paso on February 8, 2023

  • Burkburnett (Wichita Falls DMA) on February 9, 2023

  • Harlingen on February 10, 2023

  • Houston (Northwest) on February 13, 2023

  • Lufkin on February 15, 2023

  • Frisco (DFW DMA) on February 15, 2023

  • Lubbock on February 16, 2023

  • San Antonio on February 16, 2023

  • Elgin (Austin DMA) on February 17, 2023

About Raise Your Hand Texas

Raise Your Hand Texas is a non-partisan nonprofit organization supporting public policy solutions that invest in Texas’ 5.4 million public school students, encourage innovation and autonomy, and improve college and workforce readiness. Our statewide advocacy team works in communities throughout the state to raise the voices of parents, teachers, community leaders, business owners, and students who care about the future of public education. Our advocacy work, alongside current research, inform the policy recommendations we make to Texas lawmakers. For more information, visit www.RaiseYourHandTexas.org

Connect with us on Twitter: @RYHTexas
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Connect with us on LinkedIn: /raise-your-hand-texas

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Anne Lasseigne Tiedt, APR
atiedt@ryht.org, (512)784-3805