If Half of Your Students Failed a Test….

Then the campus administration would say that you did not provide adequate instruction. If the half the district failed the same test, then they would say it is an instructional matter still. If half the state fails a test, then it is still poor instruction.

 Here is a novel idea; maybe it is just possibly a “BAD TEST”. There are times as teachers that we write a test that is just bad and the students do poorly. We may teach the objective one way and then test another way and students are not able to connect the two styles.

 I believe that the new English I and English 2 End of Course STAAR Tests fall under this category. They have completely changed the style of writing that is expected from students that have not had adequate time to adjust to the requirements.

 According the 2012-13 School Report Card in the State of Texas 17.1 percent of all students are English Language Learners, 8.5 percent are Special Education, and another 17.9 percent are Mobility Statistics. That means 43% of our kids are working with an uphill disadvantage.

We are quickly approaching the point where there will be 75-100 thousand students that are unable to graduate because of these two tests, that is ridiculous. Don’t penalize the students because a bunch of bureaucrats are not able to write a test that they probably would struggle to pass. Fix the test now.

The state rate of passing was only 63%. Does that mean that 37% of the teachers in the State of Texas are poor? No, I don’t believe it does. It is more of an indication that 37% of our students are not academically prepared to take the test for many reason.

 The 63% passing rate is also more evidence that it is a poorly designed test. Maybe we should pay Pearson another $100 million dollars this year to design a better test.

 The expectations of the tests have gone too far and it is time to make some changes:

English I

Begin by returning to a format that only requires them to write short answer response. Eliminate both long essays until students are better prepared to write them with a higher level of success. Remove the “box” restraint for the essay. Allow them the space they need to answer the prompt. Limit the time to 4 hours, anything over 4 hours is counter-productive.

 English II

Eliminate the Short Answer responses and only require one long written essay. . Remove the “box” restraint for the essay. Allow them the space they need to answer the prompt. Limit the time to 4 hours, anything over 4 hours is counter-productive.

I have no problem with raising the standard but you can’t just chose an arbitrary group and raise the standard on them. According to a July 9, 2013 Dallas Morning News report there were 152,000 students that had not passed the writing portion of the English I test. If 33 percent passed in December, then that still leaves over 100,000 students that need to pass the English I STAAR Test. That is an unacceptable!

 I applaud the state for reducing the number of test that are being given, now it is time adjust the quality of the tests. Too many failures equal a “BAD TEST”.


David R. Taylor

26-year Teacher, Coach, and Principal

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5 Responses to If Half of Your Students Failed a Test….

  1. Texas Parents Opt Out says:

    They are bad tests. And that is exactly why there is so much secrecy surrounding them. Texas pays Pearson a ton of money and they deliver a crappy product that nobody is allowed to see.

    • drext727 says:

      Last year for the Chemistry the passing standard was 27% correct. They had to lower the standard so far to get anyone to pass it that it to was a REALLY BAD TEST. Not to mention that there are lots of students enrolled in chemistry and physics that have no business in those classes. They do not possess the math and abstract reasoning skill to be truely successful.

  2. Stacey says:

    The biggest change that needs to be made is to STOP tying the tests to graduation. Yes, improve the quality, and make them DIAGNOSTIC, not punitive.

  3. Reblogged this on rightfulwriter and commented:
    This is exactly what our state representatives need to hear. The test is poorly written and asks questions illogically at times. If you’re you’d like to find out for yourself, you can print and take a previous year’s test here: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/testquestions/

    Scroll down for the Freshman and Sophomore writing and reading tests. I especially dislike the way they prompt expository writing.

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