DISD Super Attacks Testing Preparedness

Soft focus, high school or university student holding pencil writing on the paper answer sheet | Image by panitanphoto, Shutterstock

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde gave a “State of the District” speech Thursday evening at the Omni Hotel ballroom, criticizing how much time and resources are being spent by teachers preparing students to take the STAAR exam.

“How about we put them all together and we have a huge bonfire. Maybe make some s’mores?” Elizalde told a crowd of attendees at the gala, commenting on the worksheets and practice tests designed to get kids ready for the assessment, The Dallas Morning News (DMN) reported.

Elizalde’s remarks came just as DISD was about to wrap up its STAAR testing for the school year, the outcome of which could indicate whether the district is on the same trajectory as Houston ISD, which is about to have its school board dismissed by the state because of the chronically poor academic performance at some of its campuses, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.

Last school year, only 41% of DISD students managed to score at grade level on their STAAR exams, according to the Texas Education Agency accountability report. Houston ISD did not do much better, as 43% of its students logged at grade level. The state average was 48% that year.

“The test will take care of itself if there’s joy in the classroom with on-grade-level materials. We don’t need to do drill and kill to prepare for a state assessment,” Elizalde claimed, according to DMN.

Still, some teachers are wary of a pivot away from test preparation.

In an emailed statement to The Dallas Express, local teachers union president Rena Honea outlined her membership’s concerns:

“For us, that’s definitely a step in the right direction, but it causes concern because most teachers are getting paid through the TEI (Teacher Excellence Initiative) Evaluation System, and the STAAR test is included in that system. Our teachers know what needs to be done to get those scores up … test-taking strategies and skills will continue to happen. As long as the STAAR test is tied to teacher compensation, it’s still problematic.”

The high-stakes STAAR exams have come under fire in recent years from multiple fronts, with parents and students citing increased stress as an unintended consequence of one of the state’s evaluation tools used to assess how well school systems are educating the students in their charge.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, Texas House Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) has expressed skepticism over the viability of STAAR exams, arguing that there could be better, locally-tailored evaluations that measure a student’s progress across the school year.

“The STAAR test is well-meaning, but it really isn’t an effective way to measure the progress of our students and assess how our students are doing,” Shaheen said, speaking with WFAA.

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  1. DISD Super Attacks Testing Preparedness – Round Up DFW - […] Dallas ExpressMay 8, 2023Uncategorized […]

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