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Teachers explain their frustrations with the STAAR test

Nacogdoches, Texas (KETK) - As the school year winds down, anxiety over the STAAR test seems to ramp up. 

This test, along with other standardized tests, have been the bane of many teachers for years.

Every year about this time Texas students have a not-so-ordinary day and spend it taking a not-so-ordinary test, the STAAR test.

One thing is all too commonly associated with it - stress.

"It's stressful for everybody involved and I think unnecessarily so," said Heather Olson Beal, a former teacher.

Exams are a regular part of any school and always have been, but it's the standardized test's format that elevates stress levels.

A key factor in the STAAR test is that it can be a "high stakes" test, meaning not passing the test means not advancing to the next grade regardless of other scores.

"There's so much buildup for it and the teachers talk about it all year, 'we got to get ready for STAAR! We got to get ready for STAAR!' so it does feel like a really big deal," said Olson Beal.

When these tests are administrated teachers are instructed to read a script describing the rules of the test and must stay on script.

"You can ask your teachers questions but they will have to read a scripted response saying they can't help you," said Crissy Cross, former teacher and parent.

Cross taught in Lubbock and saw her share of these tests.

Over time she saw, what she says is, one of the biggest problems with standardized testing.

"Kids aren't standardized," she said. All kids learn in different ways and that's great, we want them to."

She says teachers do a great job of making sure each student gets what they need.

"But this test says 'well every kid should learn the same, every kid should test the same and we should be able to get data from that,'" said Cross.

By the state providing a standardized test or curriculum many teachers feel unable to do their job in a way to best suit their students.

"A lot of teachers feel like their creativity is stifled, that they aren't able to do the things that they want to do because it doesn't match the STAAR testing enough," said Olson Beal.

Another issue many teachers have with standardized testing is money.

Cross says often times teachers hear state legislatures say they are unable to fund various programs.

"Because they're spending all of the money on this state testing program," said Cross.

Some say the STAAR test is an inefficient way of not only testing students, but for grading schools.

"I would really like to see something where we help our students in a positive way," said Shelby Laird, a parent. "I think that encouraging them to do better on a test is necessarily what we need to encourage all of our students."

"I think that, if we as Texans, value education we should try to create a system that supports teachers and supports kiddos," said Cross. "And makes them want to stay in the field that they have chosen as their career."

Schools will be administering the STAAR test throughout the month of April.


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