Weatherford Democrat

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April 20, 2014

Is opting out an option?

Parents testing school districts, TEA by keeping children home on STAAR days

(Continued)

Osterkamp’s oldest child is in the fifth grade at Martin.

“I was led to believe that there will be no consequences, that they would not hold my kids back,” she said. “I was told that their performance skills were good enough that there shouldn’t be an issue with them advancing.”

In a typical case, if a child in the fifth or eighth grade takes the test and struggles with passing, a parent can request a grade placement committee after the second attempt. The committee is made up of an administrator, the child’s teacher and the parent or guardian.

“The committee can choose to either retain the student or allow them to move forward,” Weatherford ISD superintendent Jeffrey Hanks said. “If their grades are stellar and they’ve got good attendance, they’re more than likely in good shape [to advance.]”

One other factor that could impact a student who is absent on testing day is the overall attendance.

“State law says a student cannot miss 10 percent or more of classes,” Hanks said. “If they do, they cannot advance and won’t gain credit for the class.

“This year has not been a big issue. We’ve had one round of tests so far and only a few kids missed days.”

At the high school level, students must pass five EOC exams in order to graduate.

“Pulling your kids from testing may not catch up with them until high school, when the EOC’s come in to play,” Hanks said. “By law, you are required to meet graduation requirements, which are tied in to the End-Of-Course exams.

If [the student] does poorly on testing, they cannot graduate.

“As a parent, you could be doing a disservice to your child.”

In her letter, Osterkamp explained her reasoning for pulling her children from testing, noting that the STAAR has “transformed from a means of establishing educational equality and civic responsibility into a test-fixated marathon.”

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