Questions on STAAR test about poems couldn't be correctly answered by author

- Sara Holbrook’s poems were incorporated into the 2013 grade 8 and 2014 grade 7 STAAR reading tests in Texas. She tells FOX 26 News she couldn’t even get the answers right.

The Texas Education Agency calls STAAR an assessment program designed to measure the extent to which students have learned and are able to apply the knowledge and skills defined in the state mandated curriculum standards.

Results from the STAAR tests can determine if a student moves to the next grade or a teacher stays employed.
Holbrook says she learned her poems were used for questions on the test after she was contacted by a teacher in Texas.

“She wanted to know why I wrote the questions," says Holbrook. "I didn’t write those questions I had no idea the poems were on the test and she said you just blew my mind.”

Holbrook calls the questions used about her poems vague and says she couldn’t even answer them correctly.

“Teachers will spend up to 40 days or longer of the school year away from instructional time because the teachers evaluations are based on that guessing game and the kids ability to be promoted to the next grade is based on that guessing game,” said Holbrook.

“It really does show us the problem with the STAAR test in Texas,” says Andrew Dewey with the Houston Federation of Teachers. “That the questions are not reliable.”

“Unreliable tests should never be used to make a high stakes decision,” adds Dewey.

The teachers union representative says more and more parents are opting out of the tests by keeping their child at home on test day.

“There’s misinformation out there that the child can be kept from being promoted because of that,” said Dewey. “It’s not true.”

In a written response, the Texas Education Agency defends the STAAR tests and the questions used.

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