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Letters: Dumbing down education in Texas?
The San Antonio Express News (Dec. 25 issue) had a rather complicated and difficult-to-understand article, “Law Makers Are Going After STAAR.” The State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) was implemented in March 2012 to require higher academic readiness in Texas’ high school graduates. High school freshmen were the initial target audience and these freshmen had to pass standardized (STAAR) tests in English and math. Most freshmen did pass the test quite easily.
Some students who opted for very little or no studying at all did not pass. This raised a ruckus that the tests were too difficult and thus unfair, illegal, and unconstitutional, etc. A standardized test that students can pass with little or no effort at studying is tantamount to dumbing down education. I believe there must be accountability and responsibility on the part of the administration, faculties, students, and parents of the students.
A curious paradox has evolved. For many years, employers were complaining that high school graduates had no marketable job skills, and schools needed to do a better job of preparing students for the job market. Likewise, college and university leaders were complaining that about half of all incoming freshmen were not ready for college and had to be “babied” with preparatory courses in English and math before they could take such courses for college credit.
Now we have both academicians and employers suggesting the Legislature may have gone too far in raising the standards. And, there are the ever-present, self-serving politicians and minority advocacy groups wanting to be noticed and heard. Minority advocacy groups have long insisted that standardized tests disproportionately hurt poor and minority students. So what is the solution? Let’s dumb down everybody to the same dumb level and let’s see if this will produce job-ready and college-ready high school graduates.
Since high school freshmen in March 2012 were the first students tested, let’s first find out how these freshmen (now sophomores) will perform in their senior year. Some politicians have pre-filed bills that would allow school districts to opt out of some or all of STAAR requirements. Does anybody see anything unfair in this approach? What about students from strict -requirement schools competing with no-requirement school students for college admission? Very interesting!
EMMETT J. STORK
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