Workshop on STAAR test planned

February 22, 2012

Two community organizations partnered with the Killeen Independent School District to inform parents and students about changes to the state’s mandatory assessment tests.

The Killeen Chapter of the NAACP and the Killeen Area Alliance of Black School Educators will host a workshop Tuesday to educate parents on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, test.

The test, set to replace the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, or TAKS, will be administered to all third- through eighth-graders and high school freshmen for the first time this year.

Compared to TAKS, the STAAR has been characterized as a more rigorous test that emphasizes college readiness and critical thinking skills over simple memorization and multiple choice answers.

“It’s a different test, and the reality is that parents need to have as much information as possible,” said TaNeika Driver, president of the Killeen NAACP. “Our goal is making sure our kids have the best education and are equipped with the best tools and resources to succeed.”

Students will begin taking the new test — which was developed by the Texas Education Agency in response to state requirements set in 2007 — in March.

The test also calls for high school students to take multiple “end-of-course” exams.

When the test is fully implemented, most high school students will be required to take a total of 12 exams in four core subjects: English, science, social studies and math.

As well as requiring students to take multiple, subject-specific tests, the state Legislature also mandated that the scores count toward 15 percent of the final grade for high school students.

The requirements raised concerns from parents, who feared the new exams would negatively affect students’ class rank and grade-point average, which could hurt their chances for admission to college.

On Friday, Robert Scott, head of the Texas Education Agency, announced that he would waive the requirement to have the tests count toward ninth-graders’ final grades for the current school year.

Even with the 15 percent grade requirement deferred, Driver said it would not change the fact that students still have to take STAAR exams.

“They are going to have to take the test this year,” Driver said. “We wanted to get the word out, work with the district to let parents know what resources are out there, and answer any of their questions.”

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