I’m not going to vent here, for those wondering. I’m sharing some valuable knowledge I just got wind of through a local Moms group.
So, about three weeks ago my daughters 5th grade teacher called me to inform me that she did not score high enough on the STAAR math test and needed to take the test a second time. Because 5th grade is Texas is an SSI (Student Success Initiative) year, she needed to restest and pass the retest or would be required to attend summer school. I just sort of took that with a grain of salt because I figured I’d rather focus my energy on her passing the second time. We took two weeks to study. A little each night and the weekend before her test week, she took two practice tests. You can find them here if you need them. We were advised to practice from the last version but I also printed the 2017 practice test as well.
She did great on both tests. Missing two questions on one and three on the other. A huge difference from the numbers her teacher read off to me over the phone. I mean it was ratios like “she only got 2 out of 9”, “5 out of 10,” etc. correct. 😬
So, we’re confident. She goes to school on Monday and takes the test a second time. When I pick her up that day, she asks to go home “eat her Nutella and cry it out.”
She was NOT confident she did well. Grrrrr. I began to think that it’s the stress of this test that is really getting to her. Math has never been her strongest subject but she has never failed. Usually a B grade for her.
So, I took to one of my local Mom’s groups to ask if anyone was dealing with the same situation and what they knew. It generated a ton of feedback from Moms, current teachers, past-teachers, school counselors, etc. I spent nearly all night reading the comments, asking more questions, clicking links other Moms were sharing, reviewing forms that were shared, and so much more.
The first thing I found out is that there is a Facebook group dedicated to parents against the STAAR test. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Texasparentsagainststaartesting
The other big piece of info that was shared is that, while the law in Texas states that a child in 5th must pass both Math and Reading STAAR tests to move on to 6th grade, 99.99% of the time, the school does not hold them back UNLESS 1. They have a history of failing STAAR tests in previous grades and 2. They are close to failing in those subjects for the school year in general. Even then, it’s really up to the GPC (Grade Placement Committee) and the parent to discuss those options and almost all of the time the parents choose to move them on with accelerated learning programs in place for them the next year.
I also got wind of some other very helpful articles that I’ll share at the end of my post.
I also learned that “summer school” isn’t really summer school as you or I might describe it. It’s nine days over the summer for a few hours each day where a small group of kids just focuses on practice material to take the test for the third time. Usually done on day 10/11 and summer school is over.
I requested to speak with her teacher via email that night, stressed over the fact that she likely would be required to do summer school and wondering, what if she didn’t do well the third time around. Would she have to repeat 5th grade?
I spoke with both her principal and teacher the following day. Here’s what I learned directly from them:
If my daughter does not score high enough on her retest, the GPC schedules meetings with the parents the week after the scores come in - around June 4th. The GPC and the parents look at everything. Progress from test one to test two, overall grades, attendance, previous years STAAR test results and general feedback from teacher and parents. Together, the group decides what’s best and if we as parents do not want her to take summer school and the third retest, we can appeal it right there with paperwork. We must have a reason we don’t want her to take it. Stress, test-anxiety is a common reason. They are typically always approved appeals. In addition, we have to show at the end of the summer that we as parents worked with her on the areas of concern. Online study apps, tutoring, etc. We have to document and share with the GPC before the next school year.
There’s also separate paperwork to move her to the next grade regardless of her STAAR score. This goes back to that SSI requirement. According to Texas law and the principal, all students must pass both Reading and Math STAAR tests in 5th grade to move on to 6th grade. But, again based on all that the GPC considers, most all students are moved on regardless.
If you’re still with me and in the same place I am, don’t stress. Communicate with your student’s teacher and principal. Let them know your concerns and thoughts and get all the information you can on GPC meetings and processes. That conversation helped me so much.
Here are some other resources Moms have shared with me over the last week. Good Luck!!
First, check out this tee on Amazon.
Get it on Amazon here!
TXEdRights.net - Step by Step to Opting Out of STAAR - http://www.txedrights.net/opting-out-step-by-step/