It’s the end of the school year here in the United States and while you would think kids are spending most of their time looking forward to summer, kids in Texas are studying for their yearly STAAR test. STARR: State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, a system of tests Texas public school students are required to take at the end of each school year. According to Mometrix. Kids will STAAR test from third to eighth grade and, depending on which grade you’re in, will cover reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. In high school, tests are given at the end of courses in Algebra I, Biology, English I, English II, and U.S. history. All kids of these grades will take some sort of assessment, but not all of these assessments matter quite as much as the STAAR. High school students who don’t achieve reasonable scores are not given a diploma, regardless of their grade point average or attendance record. Everything a student has worked for throughout the year could be potentially compromised just from getting a bad score on this test. STAAR testing is not necessary to prove one’s academic readiness for the next school year. The STAAR test puts too much stress on kids and is testing above grade level which is not in the best interest of students who are only being taught what is “on grade level”, and lastly the STAAR test is bad for a child’s self-esteem.
According to NBC News, “teens reported their stress level was 5.8 on a 10-point scale.” This average tips right in front of the half-way mark which is scary and it should not in any way be deemed acceptable. Many students (including me) skip important meals like dinner or even lunch to do tasks for school. An example, extra studying for important tests like these, and though our lives don’t depend on whether we pass the test or not, it does play a key role in our academic eligibility for the next grade level, or even college. Research from Turnaround.com indicates that the rates of anxiety and depression among teens in America have been rising over the past 50 to 70 years. In fact, some tests reveal a frightening five to eight times as many high school and college students who meet the criteria for major depression and/or an anxiety disorder diagnosis, as was met half a century ago. The CDC reports 110 million people to die every year as a direct result of stress. That is seven people every 2 seconds, imagine how many of those people are kids. “Anxiety levels continue to rise and instead of making a change in our educational system to regulate this problem, people in charge give and develop more tests like the STAAR” according to Turnaround.com.
Not only is the STAAR not necessary to prove one’s academic readiness for the next school year, but the STAAR is also testing above grade level. According to a study by Doctors Szabo and Sinclair for Texas Monthly, they used eight different readability formulas to examine the reading portion of the STAAR, as opposed to the five they used in 2012. A careful reading of the paper shows what could be interpreted as an astounding lack of consistency: some test passages were written below grade level, while others were written far above grade level. For instance, all five passages on the fourth-grade test were “misaligned,” with one passage below grade level and four above. In sixth grade, one passage was written at the appropriate grade level, three were above, and one was below. Their research also proves only reading tests at or below grade level are those in eighth grade, when students are trying to move into high school and might not advance if they don’t pass the test after three tries. How is this fair for students learning one grade level all year to be given last year’s material along with next year’s?
Lastly, the STAAR test is bad for a child’s self-esteem. We’ve all been in a situation where we don’t know something on a test because we have either forgotten the material entirely or are simply confused by the question. We get anxious and (depending on the type of test taker you are) you either skip the question or try your very best to figure out the problem. You would get the test back and discover that you didn’t get such a good grade. It’s disappointing, so why wouldn’t test administrators think it’s not the same for the STAAR? This happens to a lot of tests and I am in no way saying to get rid of all tests. But to get a low score on something as important as the STAAR, possibly being held back a grade and made fun of is emotionally damaging, something we should take into account.
In conclusion, the STAAR test is bad for a child’s health and self-esteem entirely. Kids throw up, pass out, and unfortunately die because of how over-worked they are and how we expect them not to is beyond me. STAAR testing is scary and as a kid that tests like this, I believe I could definitely do without it.