Time to Reduce High-Stakes Nature of STAAR is Now

October 27, 2022  

Across the Lawn Event about Measure What Matters Campaign

Raise Your Hand Texas announces recommendations to reduce
high-stakes nature of STAAR in state’s accountability system

On October 25, Raise Your Hand Texas released A Report from the Measure What Matters Assessment & Accountability Council. The report represents more than a year’s worth of conversations and detailed feedback from more than 15,600 Texans through the Texas Voices campaign regarding the state’s assessment and accountability system and the STAAR test. The recommendations provide a call to action and roadmap for state lawmakers to consider during the 88th Legislative Session to design a world-class education system.

Following a press conference on the south steps of the Texas Capitol, Raise Your Hand Texas held the fourth installment of its Across the Lawn series, Rethinking Accountability: Measure What Matters Council Findings & Recommendations. A crowd of more than 40 attended in person to hear the policy recommendations, and more than 200 viewed the event live online. 

Senior Director of Policy, Bob Popinski, presented the findings, recommendations, and “common sense solutions” of the Measure What Matters Council before moderating  a panel discussion.

“We can have solutions that add additional indicators to the system and deemphasize the weight of STAAR,” Popinski said. “Other states are doing this. We won’t be alone.”

The panel discussion featured public education consultant Dee Carney; Measure What Matters Council consultant, the co-founder of Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment Theresa Valls Trevino; the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Superintendent Dr. Jorge Arredondo; and Raise Your Hand’s Regional Advocacy Director for Dallas County Kaylan Dixon Smith

Theresa Valls Trevino

“The STAAR is unTexan.” Theresa Valls Trevino

The panel discussed the current state of assessment and accountability and what Texans would like the system to look like. Currently, Texas schools receive a letter grade A-F similar to a report card. However, unlike a student’s report card with a grade for every subject, the TEA only gives one letter grade to a campus for an overall rating.  Dixon Smith spoke on how she and the 12 other regional advocacy directors across the state executed the Texas Voices Campaign. The RADs held listening circles in communities to hear directly from Texans to collect their opinions on assessment and accountability. “What did we learn from the Texas Voices Campaign?” Dixon Smith said. “More than one letter grade would be welcomed. Parents said, ‘This one grade is not giving me an idea of what is going on at my campus.’”

Kaylan D. Smith - Across the Lawn Event about Measure What Matters Campaign

Kaylan Dixon Smith speaks at the October Across the Lawn event.

The recommendations from the Measure What Matters Report include adding other indicators beyond testing to the accountability system such as student safety, teacher quality, access to enrichment programs, and career and workforce indicators to more accurately illustrate what happens on a campus. This is especially needed because at the elementary and middle school levels, those campuses are solely judged based on student achievement on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.  Our schools do more than administer tests, and our children are more than one test on one day. “If you want to be transparent, you should have multiple letter grades like a report card, rather than one A or one F,” Carney said. “There are multiple ways to show our students and schools are doing well rather than just one test.” Administrators know the test is not enough to determine if their schools are performing well. They know more goes into a school day than taking tests. Dr. Arredondo said an accountability system should take into account some of the extracurricular activities and enrichment programs offered by campuses. He also added that the STAAR is not what gets students and teachers excited about their day. “When you’re trying to hire someone, do you go back and only look at how they did on the SAT? No. You look at their skills and their experiences,” Arredondo said. “High-stakes testing does not motivate students to come to school every day. They look forward to seeing a teacher that cares about them, someone who cares about their development.”

Dr Arrendondo - Across the Lawn event on the Measure What Matters campaign

Dr. Jorge Arredondo speaks at the October Across the Lawn event.

The Measure What Matters report also examined what other states are doing for their assessment and accountability systems. More than 25 states are utilizing similar measures the report recommends to build a more robust accountability system, truly judging schools and districts on a number of different metrics. Carney has a long history of working with assessment and accountability over her career, and she was pointed in her thoughts on the current system. “There are 26 other states who have figured out how to do climate surveys; 36 states are using other metrics,” Carney said. “If others have figured out how to use well-rounded metrics in their accountability, I know Texas can, too.” Valls Trevino has spent her retirement years fighting to improve assessment in Texas after a successful career as a child psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist, she advocated for students with special needs and learning disabilities. Now she has taken the fight to make sure testing is fair. She believes the high-stakes nature of STAAR negatively impacts many students by putting too much pressure on performing well on one test. She, too, had strong words for the current system and questioned why Texas has not joined other states in utilizing more factors in its accountability system.

Theresa Valls Trevino speaks at the Across the Lawn event about the Measure What Matters campaign

Theresa Valls Trevino speaks at the October Across the Lawn event.

“Many states see that putting high stakes on students isn’t getting you over the finish line. The test is just one marker,” Valls Trevino said. “The STAAR test is unTexan. We need to meet the needs of our school districts. Take this info, break it down. These are common sense answers to problems that have been developing for 30 years.” To read the Measure What Matters Report go to You can also register to watch the full presentation and panel discussion on-demand by clicking the button below. 


View Event On-Demand

Tags: Measure What Matters Texas School Accountability

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