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Standardized Testing: The Stakes Are High For Texas Students, Teachers, Schools

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Most of the 5 million students enrolled in Texas public schools are taking state-required standardized tests this week. 

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, known as the STAAR test, is the latest iteration of inidividual evaluations for students in the state.

STAAR tests begin in the 3rd grade, continue annually through middle school and become yearly end-of-course exams in high school, which are necessary to graduate. Depending on the student's year in school, he or she is tested on a number of subjects including math, reading, writing, science and social studies. 

For students, teachers, schools and districts, the pressure to perform well on statewide assessments is real and not without consequence.

Texas public schools rely on good test scores for credibility from the community and funding from the state. In Texas' new A-F accountability system, 40 percent of a school's rating will soon be based on STAAR test results. 
How have Texas' standardized tests changed over the years? What is the approval process for these state assessments? With recent reports of test-day issues pointing to STAAR's software, is the current system the most reliable way to administer tests?

What are the pros and cons of standardized testing? How do high-stakes assessments impact students' learning environments and the future of public education in Texas?

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Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.