Debate Stirred Over STARR Test Standards
Texas students took a new standardized test this year as the STAAR exam replaced the TAKS test. But some people think the new end-of-course exams are too easy to pass.
The tests administered to high school students became an issue today when the Houston Chronicle reported on the new passing standards. Among the easiest to pass are the freshman biology and algebra 1 tests. Students have to get 37 percent — that’s 20 correct answers out of 54. The ninth-grade writing test has the highest passing standard, 65 percent.
Debbie Ratcliff at the Texas Education Agency says the STAAR exams are considerably more rigorous than TAKS, and the passing standards will get harder over time.
“The example I’ve used is a pole vaulter,” Ratcliff said. “If you’ve successfully vaulted over a 5-foot bar, you raise don’t next raise it to 7 feet. You raise it to 5½ feet, then 6 feet.”
But people who worry about workforce development say students are getting short-changed.
“The effects of this will be is that we’ll continue a system that graduates kids from high school who are not career- or college-ready,” said Bill Hammond, head of the Texas Association of Business. “Today in Texas, half the kids who show up in a community college have to take remedial courses.”
The passing standards will be phased in over four years and will be fully in place by 2016.