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STAAR Wars - The Battle of Standards Continues

In the spring of 2012, Texas legislators implemented a new version of standardized testing for students. It's called the "STAAR" test and for some teachers, students and parents it's become quite a battle.

It's a battle over standards and whether or not every student should be held to the same one. STAAR stands for State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The annual assessments include grades 3 through 8 and end of course exams for high school students.

Kids have anxiety because if they don't pass this test they don't pass to the next grade, and for High School Juniors that means no diploma.

"It makes me feel nervous and then like the night before you always get anxious," says High School Junior Madison Mayfield.

It's this anxiety that has parents at their wits end, to the point they have even started facebook pages for those against the STAAR test.

Cindy Mayfield is a frustrated parent who has gone as far as checking her child out of school because of the test. "Some years we do OK and then other years we take it two & three times and do summer school and have to plan vacations around summer school and stress about not being there for the tutoring and then going back in and take the test, so it's just been a very heavy burden," said Mayfield.

However the controversy still lies with the question...are the testing standards realistic for every student?

Kaydonna Wolfcale, a former teacher who has been to Washington DC, the state capital and testified before the house education committee says absolutely not! "The system is getting kids ready for the big STAAR test. There's no time to go back, there's no time to waste time. We're gonna learn multiplication, we're gonna learn division, we're gonna learn fractions and we're movin' on and there's just too much. And kids are just having breakdowns." 

Parents seem to think the teachers or the school districts stress their children out during test time. However, school administrators tell us, we should talk to lawmakers. So that's exactly what we did. Our Texas legislature sets the bar for standardized testing, which is why we went straight to the source, our Senator for District 31 and Chairman for the House Education Committee, Kel Seliger.

"One of the things that troubles me about this is, people are saying we've got our test, next year it needs to be a harder test and harder test and harder test. It needs to be on the curriculum we're teaching and we need to see where our challenges are with kids and remediate those kids before we add more rigor to the test." "From a state perspective, we have very, very high expectations for those five million kids in public schools. They're gonna run this state in a very few years, ours should be a great system that seeks to improve and the way that you do that is you set down standards for performance," said Seliger.

This doesn't diminish the fact that students as young as 3rd grade are feeling distressed or in some cases...."left behind.''

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