This test is a mess: The STAAR dilemma

If you attended public school, then you probably took standardized tests at the end of each school year. This past week, two Baylor faculty members — Kyle and Jennifer Massey — protested the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test. They wrote a letter to the principal of their son’s Waco Independent School District school arguing that they have the legal right to keep their son from participating in the test.

Their reasoning? The test is a morally objectionable practice and inhibits the child’s ability to learn. It’s a source of stress for children and not a good measure of a child’s progress in school.

With this belief, the Masseys requested that their child be exempted from the test. They based this request on Texas Education Code Chapter 26, Sec. A26.010, which states a parent can remove their child from school temporarily if an activity conflicts with the parents’ moral or religious beliefs.

Initially it seemed like the parents would have to do what they’ve always done — simply keep their child out of class the week the test is administered. However, this past Saturday, Waco ISD agreed and created a “Refusal to Test” form for parents to use to opt their children out of any classroom activity that has to do with preparing for a standardized test.

This action is one that other school districts should follow.

Parents have a right to determine how their child is educated. For example, they can decide whether to send them to a public or private school or to homeschool them. However, not every parent can afford to home school or pay for a private school. When the lessons in a public school classroom stray from what a parent deems appropriate, then they have a legal right to protest.

In the past, parents such as the Masseys would simply keep their child out of school on the days when the test was taking place. This doesn’t seem like it would be too much of a problem until all the class time spent in preparation for the test is factored in.

Some public schools take weeks out of the year to specifically teach children how to do well on the standardized test. When these lessons are happening, the child loses out, as the Masseys have said.

By signing the form, parents are allowing their child to avoid doing the preparation work for the test and instead have a separate lesson plan. This is better than the child simply staying out of school or being forced to take a standardized test. In addition, the form doesn’t mean the child gets to sit at home and play games. The student will still be doing classwork, just not for the standardized test.

Because the form does no harm to the parents or students, other school districts should make signing a form an option. To accompany this, there should be informational meetings for the parents so they can better understand what the form means before they do or do not sign it.

One argument against these forms is that some parents won’t take the time to understand what the form means and will simply send their child to school like normal. Even if some parents don’t morally object to the test, the option to sign a form is still valuable for those that do. Some parents may agree with the tests.

By having the test be an option, however, as with field trips or some sex education classes, the parents have more control if they want it.