Texas students taking the STAAR test this week will have to pass in order to advance to the next grade.
Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams says there is enough money in the preliminary state budget to provide tutoring to fifth and eighth graders who fail the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.
Right now, state lawmakers have allocated $41 million over the next two years for the Student Success Initiative. SSI provides money to school districts to tutor students who cannot pass the STAAR reading or math tests.
In 2009, the state allocated $274 million for the SSI program in the 2010-2011 biennium. That was drastically cut in 2011 to $20 million per year.
Students can take the STAAR test three times before they must participate in tutoring—most of which is now done online. DeEtta Culbertson with the TEA says online classes are the most efficient way to help all students get to a passing level:
“The online program can assess individual students and automatically assign and deliver appropriate curriculum tailored to those student’s abilities," Culbertson said.
Last year the TEA waived the requirement for students to pass the test to move to the next grade because it was the first year of the STAAR exam.
The tests have come under fire from parents and schools who say there are too many tests and too much emphasis on testing.
Last month the Texas House passed a bill that would reduce the number of STAAR tests for high school students from 15 to 5.