AUSTIN, Texas — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (Odessa) has filed legislation to effectively repeal the STAAR test by eliminating the requirement to use public school assessment instruments as a criterion for promotion or graduation or to make certain accountability determinations.
House Bill 736, authored by Rep. Landgraf, seeks to eliminate current testing systems, like the STAAR test, from being used as high-stakes, one-size-fits-all substitutes for real accountability measures.
"And it's very clear that having this high stakes standardized testing in place it limits our students, it stifles our teachers and I don't think it really accurately measures the accountability for our public schools," Rep. Landgraf said. "I think we absolutely have to have accountability for our public schools after all this is an investment that tax payers are making and we want to make sure that we can show that tax payers are getting a return on that investment."
"A statewide assessment instrument places too great of a burden on our students and teachers," Rep. Landgraf explained. "Teachers are forced to 'teach to the test' so that the largest number of students can achieve scores that meet the minimum level of satisfaction. This destroys any opportunity for teachers to come up with creative ways for students to learn, and limits the amount of time and attention teachers can pay to specific students."
Landgraf says he understand Texas, like all state, must abide by federal education laws for funding. However, he believes there should be alternative solutions to standardized testing.
"I would shift the focus and get back to the basics and look at how well our students are prepared to either go to college, to enter the skilled workforce or join the military and I think if students are ready to follow one of those paths then the schools are doing their jobs," Rep. Landgraf said. "Maybe if we just look at how well students are prepared to be contributing members of society then we can better evaluate how well our schools are performing."
Shortly after filing the bill, Rep. Landgraf says he received positive feedback from both parents and teachers around the state. He says that feedback is vital to the bill's success.
"I think that's important as we continue to have this discussion but you know clearly we have room for improvement in Texas and I think our future is worth this fight," Rep. Landgraf explained. "By certain rules we have in the House of Representatives. it'll be at least, gosh I'm trying to look at the calendar, it'll be at least 50 to 60 days before it would even be eligible for a vote so."
The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.
In the meantime, Rep. Landgraf says he will continue to work on improving the bill before a possible final vote.
"But that gives us an opportunity to collaborate with other members of the House of Representatives and come up with some solutions," Rep. Landgraf explained. "For me this is a starting point I think there are ways that we can improve this bill and I look forward to working with others to do that."