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Families are opting out of STAAR exams despite consequences

Schools are required to have 95% STAAR participation in order to avoid potential state intervention.

HOUSTON — Many parents are letting their kids opt out of the STAAR test despite the decision having consequences.  

“I’ll be opting him out here on out,” said Houston ISD parent and teacher Anna Chuter of her third grader.

She and two other mothers are among what appears to be a growing number of parents allowing at least one of their kids to skip STAAR, or State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, testing.

They said it's based, in part, on the stress of prepping and the actual exams.

"It’s very hard to see students in high school not embracing learning, reading or numeracy in the way that I think they would had it not been squashed by attaching the value of their intelligence to a number," said HISD parents and outside educator Anita Wadhwa.

"The schools, they teach so much toward the STAAR test," said Chuter. "Are they actually grasping the concepts that they need? Are they actually learning all the things they actually need to learn in school?”

All three of Karina Quesada’s children who attend separate elementary, middle and high schools in The Heights have opted out.

"And I didn’t opt out because I’m afraid they won’t pass it," said Quesada. "It’s more of a moral stand against what’s happening to education. What’s happening to our children.”

While technically possible, opting out requires parent meetings and other specific measures.

Schools with less than 95% participation could face consequences.

"Schools can get taken over, schools can get shut down,” said Quesada.

Many standardized test proponents say STAAR may not be perfect, but it is a way to gauge academic progress and hold campuses accountable. They also said opting kids out only hurts their schools.

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