BISD and Raise Your Hand Texas

Brazosport ISD Stakeholders Attend Listening Circles as Part of State Assessment Reform Efforts
Posted on 04/01/2022
This is the image for the news article titled Brazosport ISD Stakeholders Attend Listening Circles as Part of State Assessment Reform EffortsOfficials from Raise Your Hand Texas (RYHT) held “listening circles” with Brazosport ISD teachers, students, parents and administrators as part of their Measure What Matters campaign. RYHT is a non-profit organization that supports public policy solutions that invest in our students, encourage innovation and autonomy, and improve college and workforce readiness. The purpose of this initiative is to research and reform the state’s assessment and accountability system.

The confidence in STAAR testing is at an all-time low, and many have recognized the ineffectiveness and inequality of this assessment. According to RYHT, their goal is to bring 10,000 voices together with policy expertise to speak to what Texans want most from their schools and impact policy in the 2023 legislative session.

RHYT Regional Director Deann Lee said that the listening circles are being held to “gather feedback on accountability topics and invite people to join us in the push for legislative change. What makes a school great? What are parents really looking for in a high-quality school? What do teachers think is most important? What do students want and need?" During these separate listening circle sessions, our teachers, students, parents and administrators spent time sharing their insights, knowledge and perspectives on the state assessment process and content. They spoke about the challenges with the current system and offered great solutions to make it better.

Brazoswood senior, Prisha Dalal participated in the student listening circle. Prisha believes that student voices matter in discussing state testing and said, “It is the students’ opinion that matters the most when it comes to a discussion about state testing. I believe this because it is the students who experience the test taking process so they are going to be the ones to know what advantages and disadvantages state testing has.”

Many students and parents in the room were concerned about students' mental health and the unnecessary stress and anxiety STAAR creates in students and teachers. Emmie Dodson, 8th grade student from LJI, had these concerns as well and said, “I think that alleviating stress on students and teachers is very important. Especially in our post covid society, mental health is a huge concern for us all. Less pressure to pass a test would mean more learning time and happier teachers and students.”

Teachers from all 19 of Brazosport ISD campuses participated in the teacher listening circles with Raise Your Hand Texas, and had much to say about the assessment and accountability system in Texas. Alyssa Rutherford, 6th grade teacher at Rasco said, “Teachers are the ones who know the students best. Our voices should be considered invaluable when academic decisions are being made. People sitting in positions of legislative power often haven't been in the classroom much, if at all, and that's truly a disservice to the students for those people to make unilateral decisions.” Meli Rodriguez, 8th grade teacher at LJI added, “I believe they should decrease the amount of assessments over the school year especially for 8th graders since they have to test 4 days in a row. At the end of this time period, students are overwhelmed, stressed, and are no longer performing at their best. I also think the STAAR test is too heavily weighted. There is more to students than how they perform on one test, one day of the year. Even the college and university systems are changing their perspectives to include a more holistic view of admissions.” The overall consensus was that the STAAR test does not equitably measure student performance, the test itself is flawed and not developmentally appropriate, too much pressure is put on staff and students due to the STAAR test, and the A-F accountability system does not accurately portray how successful a campus or district is.

In regards to the campaign’s goals of assessment reformation, Lee stated, “Much has changed about what we know are the best ways to learn, test, and measure all that goes into a world-class education system. Raise Your Hand Texas believes it’s time for us to adopt an accountability system that reflects ALL that goes into creating a high-quality public school campus--not just scores from one test on one day.”

In addition to conducting listening circles with educators from across the state, RYHT has an online survey for all stakeholders to provide feedback regarding the future of state testing. You can take the survey by sending the word ‘TESTING’ to 844-815-4906 via text message or using the QR Code on this page before the end of May 2022.


The second phase of the campaign will focus on promoting the Council’s findings and legislative recommendations. Council members will discuss policy initiatives every 6-8 weeks leading up to the 88th Texas Legislative Session in 2023.

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