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Senate Education Committee Grills TEA On STAAR Writing Exam Standards

Ryan E. Poppe
TPR News


State lawmakers took issue with the Texas Education Agency’s plan to keep the standard for writing component of the Texas STAARS exam at a lower level for a third year in a row. Lawmakers voiced concerns with keeping the lower standard and changing the exam while student performance  remains flat.

The state introduced the STAAR exams in 2011 and because of failing test grades the legislature reduced the number of exams from 15 to five in 2013.  

State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio, said the STAAR exam may have run its course. 

“If it’s not working, why do we keep doing the same thing? Van De Putte said following the hearing. "Is it really showing when students are ready? When Highland Park students are 98% all college bound; when they score poorly on the writing exam yet they do perfectly well on the college test, ACT and SAT, that tells me that our testing methods are totally invalid.”

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, who chairs the Senate Committee on Education, took issue with Education Commissioner Michael William’s effort to constantly lower what constitutes as a passing score on the exam.

WILLIAMS: "We don’t know the level of rigor in 8,000 schools."

PATRICK: "I don’t want to speak for all of us, but again that’s why we do the EOC (end of course exams). But then when we get to the EOC we are reducing the passing cut score down to half of what we expect in the class; that makes no sense to me."

One of the agenda items for the education committee is to examine student test scores on the writing portion of STAAR and possibly change the writing standard in 2015.

Van De Putte and Patrick are running against each other for lieutenant governor in the November election.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.