Standardized tests can help prepare students

In order to gain admission to most universities, you must first achieve a certain grade on the SAT or ACT. These standardized tests are used to help show colleges where a student is academically.

Taking a pre-test such as the PSAT can be helpful.
Taking a pre-test such as the PSAT can be helpful.

I am not a good test taker, but I believe that the SAT helped prepare me more than any other state mandated test I took at any level.

During my junior year of high school, my school set aside a day so that we could take the PSAT. This test was meant to prepare us for the SAT. Unlike taking multiple days of class time to prepare for a test, I think that taking this pre-test helped show me what I needed to prepare for.

Like a test such as the STAAR, the SAT and ACT also have an impact on a students future. It can determine whether a student gets into their dream school or whether they need to start looking at other schools.

The reason I think the SAT helped prepare me, is because of how I approached it. I probably spent more time preparing for that test than any other test I have taken in my entire life, including college. I understood the importance of the test, and I took it very seriously.

The SAT also made me think more than any other mandated test. I really had to think about abstract questions. I also think it helped prepare me for the types of tests I would be taking in college.

Maybe these standardized tests are not too bad after all.


Standardized Tests Bring Too Much Pressure

Standardized tests can be confusing for students who have trouble taking tests.
Standardized tests can be confusing for students who have trouble taking tests.

Standardized testing is a hot topic in Texas and around the world. The tests are put in place to assess whether or not students are retaining the information they are learning in the classroom.

The state of Texas has required students to take state mandated tests ever since 1980 when the TABS test was implemented. Texas began using the TEAMS test in 1986. In 1990, they changed to the TAAS tests. In 2003, the state started using the TAKS test. Students have been taking the STAAR test since the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.

As a student who had to take standardized tests including the TAAS and TAKS tests, I understand the arguments against them. There are students who have trouble taking tests. So when you require them to pass these tests in order to advance to the next grade, or even graduate for that matter, it can be a lot of pressure.

I do believe that these tests help to see if students are retaining the information. I just think that they need to be tweeked. There has to be a better way to go about it.

I think if the stakes were lowered, the students would benefit more from taking these tests. It would put less pressure on them, and the results might even improve. If a student does poorly on one of the tests, then the educators know what information they are retaining and what they need to spend more time on.

I am sure I am not the first to propose this solution. There would still be problems if there was nothing at stake. At some point, students would stop taking the tests seriously. This would obviously skew the results. I believe this problem would mainly occur with older students. I do not think the younger students do not truly understand the importance of these tests when they take them every year.

When it comes down to it, there is no doubt in my mind that something needs to be done about the standardized tests in the state of Texas and the U.S. for that matter. I just hope that students can reep the benefits of them without feeling the pressures the tests bring.

Texas High School Fires Teacher For Asking Students About STAAR Test Information

A teacher has been fired from Samuel Clemens High School after an investigation shows that he asked students to write down information that they remember seeing on the STAAR test.

Gary D. Fagan was fired from Samuel Clemens High School for asking students about information from the STAAR test.
Gary D. Fagan was fired from Samuel Clemens High School for asking students about information from the STAAR test.

Gary D. Fagan had worked in the school district for almost 10 years. He was a sociology teacher at Clemens, located in Schertz, Texas. He was fired after someone told the principal that Fagan had given students a piece of paper and told them to write down 10 things that they remembered from the state mandated test.

Fagan, like all teachers in the state of Texas, had taken a sworn oath stating that he would not discuss any information about the STAAR test.

While he may have broken the rules, some teachers think that his actions should not have resulted in him losing his job.

Opting Out of the STAAR Test is an Option for Some


When STAAR testing dates roll around some parents around Texas are keeping their children at home. A Baylor professor has even made an online opt-out letter to help protest standardized testing. Most fear that their child will not advance to the next grade if they do not take the state-mandated test. That may not be the case.


The Texas Education Agency (TEA) says that it is illegal for a parent to not allow their child to take the test. Should it? One parent doesn’t think so.

Lack of Progress Could End Standardized Tests

When the STAAR test was implemented, many believed it would show the same positive results as the TAKS test.

The TAKS test was a standardized test that was given out to students before the STAAR test was implemented. STAAR was supposed to be the new and improved version of standardized testing in Texas, but the results have not met those expectations.

Progress has not been made in STAAR scores.
Progress has not been made in STAAR scores.

STAAR was a hot topic in candidate debates leading up to last weeks election. One candidate even referred to the test as “useless.”

Newly elected governor Greg Abbott said STAAR may not be the right way to judge students progress in the classroom.

“We may have a broken thermometer, the STAAR test, that is no longer doing a good job of measuring,” Abbott said.

Click here to read more about why test scores for STAAR are on the decline.

-Cody Empkey

Standardized Tests, Not Prep Work, Limited With New Law

Protesters gather to express their displeasure with standardized testing.
Protesters gather to express their displeasure with standardized testing.

In 2013, Texas legislators passed House Bill 5 which reduced the amount of standardized test students would have to take.

The law had a provision in it that limited the amount of time educators could spend preparing for a test. It also reduced the amount of practice tests educators were allowed to administer throughout the school year.

A year later, educators have found a loophole in the system.

Click here to learn more.

-Cody Empkey