Texas parents will get a sooner-than-expected look at the much-maligned state standardized tests their children are taking.
Education Commissioner Michael Williams said Tuesday that most editions of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR exam, will be released to the public in August. That's mere months after they are administered in classrooms this spring.
Current law requires that the exams taken by students be released every three years -- meaning many wouldn't be seen publicly until at least next year. But Williams said he hopes the early release will answer concerns of some who "have viewed the inability to see the actual tests as a reason to invalidate the entire process."
"I have heard those concerns and am accelerating the release of all the assessments while maintaining the validity of results for the upcoming spring administration," Williams said in a statement.
First given last school year, STAAR was designed to be more difficult than previous statewide exams and to get progressively more-rigorous over time. But it has been criticized by students, parents, teachers and school administrators who worry about "over-testing."
State law requires that many high school students pass 15 STAAR exams in core subjects to graduate. A bevy of bills in the Texas Legislature would drastically reduce that number.
Williams, though, has been an outspoken proponent for school accountability and says Texas must have a demanding testing regimen to hold students, teachers and school district administrators accountable.
He ordered released 2013 STAAR exams in grades three through eight math, science, reading, writing and social studies; high school math including Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II; and high school science exams in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Also set to be made public this summer are English I Reading, English II Reading and English III Reading exams; English I Writing, English II Writing, English III Writing exams; and STAAR tests in World History, World Geography and U.S. History.
"I hope the release of these assessments eliminates some of the concern surrounding STAAR," Williams said. "In reviewing these tests, I believe parents will find attainable expectations coupled with a high level of rigor that is tied directly to course content in every grade level."
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