North Texas mom part of group suing TEA over STARR test

A North Texas mother is part of the group of concerned parents who are filing a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency to keep the state from using this year’s test scores to rate students.

Jennifer Taylor from Corinth, Texas is part of the lawsuit against the TEA claiming the state-mandated test her eighth grade son Caleb took, along with two million other public school students, violated state law.

“This lawsuit is to stop the scores for this year,” Taylor explained. “They don’t need to be reflected on our teachers, our schools or our children.”

State lawmakers put time limits on STAAR tests for younger students in 2015. Third through fifth graders were limited to two hours and sixth through eighth graders were limited to three hours. This year’s test was four hours long.

“They were the ones responsible for designing the assessment in a way that complied with the law,” said lead attorney Scott Placek. “And they're the ones who failed to do that.”

The lawsuit says the TEA “unilaterally decided that is it not bound to comply with the clear legislative dictates.”

“Rather than modify the assessments, the TEA just went ahead and gave the assessments in essentially the same form as they had been,” said Placek.

The legality of the STAAR test is not the only problem this year. Lewisville ISD first raised the flag when it discovered a problem with the scoring of the test by new first-year vendor ETS. A computer glitch lost thousands of student answers, and the TEA is scrapping more than 14,000 tests statewide.

“All of these high stakes that are attached to it such as retention, summer school, loss of electives. Those do nothing to tell us where a student actually is. They just add stress to the system,” said Placek.

It’s a system Taylor doesn't want Caleb to feel defeated by.

“I know that we need to have some kind of assessments to make sure that our teachers are teaching and they are not ignoring out children and letting our kids go through the cracks,” said Taylor. “But I think the STAAR is a flawed test, all the way up to whoever created it.”

A spokesperson for the TEA said they have not been formally served with the lawsuit and could not comment on a lawsuit they have not reviewed.