STAAR, an acronym for State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness has taken a couple of legislative hits in this legislative session. STAAR is slated to slowly phase-in and replace the TAKS test during the next school year, although field testing of the test will occur this year. But today is a kind of odd day in the legislative session in that STAAR is being attacked from two fronts.
First there is HB 500 a bill that passed in the State House today, which severely cuts back on the number of tests a high school senior needs to pass in order to be able to graduate.
Submitted by Rob Eissler R-The Woodlands, HB 500 reduces the number of STAAR End of Course exams that a high school student needs to pass from 12 to 4. And really, as of now, students need not pass all of the tests, but just maintain an aggregate average of 70 for all 12 of them. Eissler’s bill lowers the bar and requires students to pass these 2 specific tests: Algebra and English III (Junior English) and two others.
Educators and business lobbies argue that all this does is increase the likelihood that high school graduates will not be prepared to enter the workforce, or be ready for college with these standards which are arguably lower than TAKS standards. Others doubt that these new more rigorous tests will result in more students simply unable to graduate.
But Eissler’s reasoning isn’t about the education of the children or their readiness. It’s about the money. The money that will have to be spent this year and next to buy the textbooks and materials so that students will be able to take and pass these 12 tests. That is one reason that the Senate budget bill is kinder to education than the House bill, it includes $400 million that will be needed to buy these materials.
But wait, it gets better. Submitted today for consideration in the House is HB 2509 by Dan Huberty R-Humble, also wants to delay the administration of STAAR for two years. Not for the children or for education. Not because children are being tested into the ground. It’s about the money. The money that the state will have to shell out to Pearson Assessment and Information, the company that is developing the test for Texas, and stands to rake in millions upon millions of education dollars.
For Republicans it’s not about education. It’s all about the money.