Dear STAAR Test
Dear STAAR Test,
My third grade son will sit down to take you for the first time tomorrow. This year isn’t the first time he’s heard of you; he was introduced to you a few years ago when his teachers began to prep him.
My son has been talking about you for months now, asking me questions about what he will do if he doesn’t do well. I assured him, as have his teachers, that he’s going to do great. My friends who are teachers have been talking about you for months now, too, and not because they want their students to perform well so they look good. They want their students to score well on the test because it breaks their hearts to watch their students’ faces pull and twinge with stress on the day you’re placed before them. They want their students to be prepared, which is why they have spent countless hours in the classroom getting them ready.
You used to be called the TAAS Test and the TAKS Test. I remember when I took you (under whatever previous name you called yourself), I wasn’t as nervous as my son is now. But I want my son to know that you matter...but at the same time, you don’t.
You matter, STAAR Test, because like all school work, I want my kids to take you seriously. I want them to prepare and focus for you. I want them to learn how to overcome obstacles, such as test anxiety. I want them to face their fears of opening you for the first time only to see that you were like the monster hiding under the bed - only dark and scary and brooding when the light doesn’t expose you.
And that, in bringing you out into the light, is where you begin to matter much less, STAAR Test. Because you don’t - and won’t - ever define my kids or any other kids across the state who take you. You don’t matter because when you’re done, you aren’t missed. And you don’t matter because no measure of a man is ever, ever determined by a standardized test. Nor is a teacher, for that matter.
There are third graders who will have fingers trembling when they open their test booklets tomorrow. They may struggle through the math portion while trying to remember all the resources they were taught to solve problems. Or it may be the reading that causes them to stumble. There are juniors in high school who have taken you this month alongside taking AP tests. And there are tons of students across our proud state who have opened your booklets to bring you out from the ominous unknown.
Whether students pass or fail - you do not define them.
For teachers who covered every ounce of material - you do not define them.
To the students with test anxiety and learning disabilities - you do not define them.
Whether students are from lower income schools or affluent ones - you do not define them.
You see, STAAR Test, here in the great state of Texas, our students and teachers are bound by much more than a standardized test. They’re bound by eager anticipation of defying the odds, of overcoming the hardships, of rising to the top, and of achieving what was thought to be impossible.
And you, STAAR Test, cannot define nor inhibit our students’ and teachers’ greatness.
A Mom Who Isn’t Scared of You