Can somebody please help me? I need to know more about STAR Assessments!
I missed the last board meeting at my school. My bad, yes I know… But any parent of very young children will attest to that time of day being the MOST difficult.
Anyway, I was informed by one of the board members, who happens to be a friend of mine, that I missed an “interesting” presentation by our two middle/ high school English teachers. Apparently they had nothing but positive feedback on the STAR Assessments that are used at our school. They loved getting detailed and prompt results to see which students needed help and in what areas exactly. My board member friend recounted their gushing praise of the system. Our younger middle/ high school math teacher had similar praise, which I learned from my sister who is her friend. I guess that before STAR they had no clue how to evaluate their students???
So, am I the one who is misinformed?
I don’t have a problem using a form of technology like this to aid in student assessments. STAR products are made by Renaissance Learning, whose slogan is “Advanced Technology for Data-Driven Schools.” Enough said for me… I’ve already talked about my opposition to schools being so data-driven. But if teachers do in fact find STAR so helpful, am I wrong to criticize?
Our principal loves STAR. During my opt-out meeting with her she stated she would use it even if there wasn’t a requirement for the state. She also said that STAR was not being used for teacher evaluations, at least not for elementary (as far as I know). We opted out anyway as there is no good reason for all these assessments in young children.
Is STAR being used to evaluate teachers? I’ve found it hard to research all the ins and outs of STAR. Much of the heavy criticism is aimed at the high-stakes state tests that begin in 3rd grade. I did read that STAR is just one of many state-approved assessment systems used in VAM (value-added modeling), which scores the teacher on his performance. And I have a problem with value-added assessment.
My problem begins here: If STAR is touted as a useful aid for a teacher’s assessment of his/ her students, then why can’t that teacher be present when the test is being administered? Don’t we trust the teacher? You’d think the teacher might actually benefit from watching his/ her students answer the questions. Could it be that the process is just as important as the outcome?
I also do NOT like the idea of our children’s data being compiled in some bureaucratic office. Anyone else freaked out by all the data-gathering being done out there?
STAR might indeed by innocuous, but it is still a product for which someone has to pay. When our meager RTTT dollars run out, who will foot the bill? (We know the answer to this). And is it worth it when we have so many other things that must compete for our schools finite budgets?