SAN ANGELO, Texas – About 490 SAISD students from kindergarten through second grade have signed up for summer classes and other programs. Some parents, and education professionals like former teacher of 30 years and current tutor at JPW Learning Center Betsy Day, think that a combination of ill-suited testing strategies and lost focus and progress from distance learning are to blame.
“The testing is not developmentally appropriate for the students on their grade level,” explained Day, Director of Training for JPW Learning Center. “They might be testing a third grader, but the testing material is on a fifth grade level. Is this a fair playing field? No, it’s not. And this is one of the biggest complaints that the parents have and also that the schools are teaching to the test. “
But SAISD says they have not received much feedback on standardized testing. Instead, they say a focus on literacy is the driving force behind the wave of summer sign ups. “We have had really no feedback from parents concerned about Staar testing,” said SAISD Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Shelly Huddleston. “The biggest response has been for our kindergarten through second grade students who do not take standardized tests, who just really wanted their kids to have a boost in literacy. So we’ve had more elementary students than in prior years, enroll in our summer school program, that’s because we’ve moved the elementary focus to a focus on literacy for kindergarten first and second graders. So we have a really exciting program that we’re doing this year called lit camp, and it has a focus solely on literacy, with just a lot of fun and engaging activities for students.”
Huddleston did also say that many teachers and administrators in SAISD and beyond have long wished for standardized testing to be re-examined, so that teaching feels more like educating and less like constant test prep.