TEXAS, USA — After past efforts have failed to replace the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test or eliminate it from public schools, a Republican is trying again this legislative session.
State Representative Matt Shaheen, whose district covers the western part of Colling County, filed legislation to replace the STAAR test. He’s talked with principals, teachers, parents and students in his state representative district. And he thinks it’s time to let school districts select their own standardized testing.
“The STAAR test is well-meaning, but it really isn’t an effective way to measure the progress of our students and assessing how our students are doing,” Shaheen said on Inside Texas Politics.
Shaheen says there are a lot of different options out there districts could use instead of the STARR test. And he is open to anything.
However, replacing the STARR test could still be difficult or impossible to do. While Shaheen wants the test replaced, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath defends it and wants to look at ways to make it better. Shaheen has spoken with Morath several times.
“The dialogue with Commissioner Morath, and I think he’s a great commissioner and does a great job - he’s very big on testing and I am too, rating where our students are at, where our schools are at. I just don’t agree with him on the right vehicle,” Shaheen said.
Shaheen also addressed school choice.
School vouchers have had a lot of pushback in previous sessions from legislators who represent rural school districts. However, Gov. Greg Abbott is now supporting something called Education Savings Account (ESA). This will let parents use a portion of tax money to pay for anything education-related such as private schools and tutoring.
Could ESA now be the key to expanding school choice? Shaheen thinks this is the session if anything is going to be done surrounding school choice. Still, bringing lawmakers on board who represent rural areas could be difficult.
“The challenge is more of our rural legislators,” Shaheen said.