For Immediate Release: March 10, 2022
Contact: Rob D’Amico, 512-627-1343, firstname.lastname@example.org
Respect means listening to our students, parents, and educators on what we need to emerge from this pandemic and to set a foundation for success in the future. Now is not the time to turn a blind eye to the harm inflicted by STAAR. It’s time to make the only rational decision—cancel STAAR.
In response to a historic crisis of teacher resignations, Gov. Greg Abbott created…a task force. Long story short, educators are streaming out of the profession because of professional disrespect, heavy workloads, and shrinking paychecks. Our recent survey found 66% of teachers are considering leaving the profession. The STAAR test is the epitome of disrespect for educators and results in added stress for parents and kids. But Texas is forging ahead this spring with STAAR, adding another item to the list of reasons why teachers are leaving the profession.
Shelbi Varnell, a parent and former 2nd-grade teacher, said STAAR was a significant part of her decision to depart early from teaching. “Multiple fields related to child development have cautioned against relying upon data derived from standardized tests,” she said. “But schools continue to use STAAR to not only disrupt much-need instruction time, but also to judge students and teachers. That’s ultimately one of the biggest factors that led to me leaving the field of education.”
“I’m super nervous about taking STAAR this year because I’m worried I won’t do well,” said Kaidence Varnell, Shelbi’s daughter and a 6th-grade student. “And if I don’t do well, I might not be able to take another elective next year. It’s just so much pressure for a kid, you know?”
“The STAAR test administration is cumbersome and time consuming,” Texas AFT President Zeph Capo added. “Parents and educators share concerns about learning loss and the need to support our children after two years of disruption. Our students deserve the time and attention to help them learn and achieve, instead of wading through bubble sheets and glitchy computers.”
Kay Wood, a parent activist who has opposed STAAR for years, also stressed that time would be better spent on real instruction. “During a pandemic, we’ve heard over and over about learning loss and learning gaps,” she said. “Yet teachers are asked to take away valuable instruction time to teach to the test and prep for a meaningless assessment that gives them no real information about what students need to succeed.”
“Parents, teachers, and students all agree that STAAR is not what our schools need,” Capo added. “The state should listen to key stakeholders in our public schools and cancel this costly, harmful test.”
The Texas American Federation of Teachers represents more than 65,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.