Schools Begin STAAR Testing; Parents Question Test's Worth

School districts have reiterated the test's importance

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The STAAR test starts this week in some districts. The state's achievement test has become even more controversial this year as parents have asked for their students to be able to opt-out. Meanwhile, schools have dug in on its importance.

Julia Dickey's son Dakota is a student at Arlington High School and has been learning at home all year.

Dickey said Dakota has health concerns which made her unwilling to send him back to school during the pandemic.

"He has asthma and I don't want him to get COVID from school" Dickey said.

But now she said her son was being pressured by school leaders to return to campus -- something she is strongly against.

"He's like, 'I'm not going to graduate if I don't pass it,'" Dickey said.

Superintendents from districts across Texas have pushed the importance of the STAAR test, and how they need the data from all students to measure their learning loss during the pandemic.

When lawmakers tried a letter-writing campaign to stop the state from giving the test this year, school leaders fought back with their own letter-writing campaign.

"The information that will be gathered from the test will be very important in how the curriculum is developed for next year," Fort Worth ISD spokesperson Clint Bond said.

He said the district was taking steps to keep all students safe during testing, especially those remote learners who have been afraid to come to campus.

"Students who can, will wear masks, staff will wear masks, we have hand sanitizer we will ensure that all appropriate procedures are in place," Bond said.

He also pointed to low infection rates in the school. Still, parents are digging in on the safety concerns and the frustration with the test as a whole.

"Some kids don't test well, they get test anxiety and I think if you pass your classes you should be able to graduate. I don't think it should be based on a test," Dickey said.

Each district has its own timetable and rules for taking the test, and while some students need it for graduation, others may be able to graduate by fulfilling other requirements.

Should talk to each individual school to find out if any alternatives are available for their child.

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