Educate Seguin has two “planks”: in its 2016 platform that address Seguin ISD performance on state standardized tests, specifically, the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR). Those planks are:
- By 2020, achieve a district-wide passing rate of 90% on 5th and 8th grade STAAR Tests
- By 2020, reduce the achievement gap to 5% for Hispanic, African-American, and economically disadvantaged students
Why are these important? There is a great deal of anger and criticism from students, parents, teachers, and administrators about the use of standardized tests. Much of that anger and criticism is justified. It can be very easily argued that teaching has become automated and geared solely towards helping students pass these tests. The fact that this is an unintended consequence does not really address the problem. On the other hand, it is important that there be some way of objectively measuring what students are learning. We have seen that there can be great disparities in what a passing grade means in one school versus another. The argument for STAAR is that it increases accountability and ensures students are being effectively taught. Previous Educate Seguin blogs have addressed the poor performance of our district on the STAAR tests and the impact that has on our young people and our community. It is imperative that we turn this around. And we must not only improve our overall performance but also the performance of our most at-risk populations. That is the goal of this part of the platform
What will it take? Ironically, we believe it will require the district to pay LESS attention to the test. Effective teaching is critical. We must make sure all of our teachers have the tools, training, and skills to teach every student in their classrooms. We will never achieve the goals we strive for by “teaching to the test” or by teaching “test-taking” skills or by curtailing instruction in non-test subjects or by having student repeatedly take practice test all year long. Every single student in every single classroom must have an effective teacher with the resources required to teach. If we commit to doing that, the test results will, we believe, take care of themselve and the STAAR will resume its intended place-as an indicator of effectiveness rather than a goal in itself.