AUSTIN (KXAN) — Math questions on the STAAR test continue to be under scrutiny, but no action was taken Wednesday by the State Board of Education.
“This is their lives. This is so important to them. Let’s fix this thing,” said board member Geraldine Miller, R-Dallas.
Marisa Perez, D-San Antonio, fired back defending the way the test is currently written. “Our kids can do it,” said Perez.
The issue at hand involves math questions for third through eighth graders designed to test students on the process it takes to come up with the right answer, not just their ability to choose the correct answer.
Randy Houchins, a parent with two children in the Leander Independent School District, argues that there are often several ways to solve a math problem, and students should not be penalized as long as they know how to figure out the right answer.
Houchins, an engineer who uses math on the job, said he has been showing up to State Board of Education meetings and testifying on the topic since November of 2014. He has also taken the entire 2014 and 2015 STAAR tests himself.
While holding a stack of actual STAAR questions in his hand, Houcher pointed to a third grade math question that required students to show six different ways to figure out a multiplication problem.
Wednesday night, the SBOE is also hearing proposals from three different testing companies who would like to be awarded a contract to handle the high school equivalency exams needed for Texans to earn their GED.
According to KXAN media partner, The Texas Tribune, it is a computer-based exam administered by Pearson. The board voted earlier this month to offer paper exams. Critics argue the expensive, computer format discriminates against low-income residents and is too difficult for a high school equivalency exam, as well as resembling a college entrance exam. Students pay $135 per test.