Grade school students in Texas stated their STAAR exams Tuesday. Parents standing against what they say is "high-stakes tasting" met with KHOU 11 New for the first day of what’s called "Opt Out Academy."
Instead of taking the STAAR, about a dozen students sat inside the halls of Kindred Lutheran Church in Montrose listening to retired HISD teacher, Judy Hoffhien.
“Oh, I like those two words, friendship and quietness,” said Hoffhein during a class orientation.
Alicia Verdier is an Opt Out Academy Organizer. Verdier is part of the larger Houston-based group, Community Voices For Public Education.
“We have problems that are beyond just teaching to the test,” Verdier said. “We have problems with the test itself and the way that it’s taught and the way it’s administered.”
Since last school year, The Texas Education Agency and ETS, the New Jersey based company that administers the test, tell KHOU 11 News, they’ve made changes to address past problems.
ETS has boosted its server capability to make sure test answers aren’t lost like a 2015-2016 school year glitch effecting thousands of students. The company has added tracking labels to shipped test items, added graders to read writing exams and decreased the amount of questions on the test to comply with state law.
“It doesn’t change anything for me,” Verdier said. “I appreciate they’re doing a better job tracking where the tests are going after the kids take them because there are security concerns there.”
Unhappy until STAAR is completely removed, parents like Verdier will continue to opt out regardless of improvements made to how the test is administered.
A Texas Education Agency spokesperson tells KHOU 11 News they’re confident and hopeful this round of testing will not have as many issues as last year. She also reminded parents schools have already taken one round of retests this school year. December’s retests did not have any major problems reported.