STAR 9 testing needs change
Every year, school changes — students come and students go. Policies change and some teachers receive pink slips while others are hired; however, there is one aspect that has been consistent for many years: Standardized Testing and Reporting, also known as STAR 9.
STAR 9 is the statewide evaluation test that each school is required to administer to freshmen through juniors classes to assess students' performance in their courses. The California Department of Education then takes each student's results and creates a score for each high school. These results are used to indicate whether or not teachers are teaching the curriculum completely and thoroughly. The STAR 9 test is becoming more important to schools statewide each year as the department adds regulations and consequences.
Sutter Union High School bears no exception to the exam and requires students to take it seriously. These tests can be evaluated by two distinct classes: the student and the teacher.
The STAR 9 test is always one of the most tedious tasks of any student's school year; hours are spent reading excerpts from literature and answering complicated math problems. And all for what? The student receives no reward for doing well on the test and no punishment for doing poorly.
For this reason, most students consider the test extraneous and don't perform to their maximum potential. Sophomore Mat Sanders says, "Yeah, they are pretty tiring to do and not see results quickly."
The idea of evaluating a school's performance through testing the student body looked good on paper, but now that the test has been administered for more than a decade, flaws are being exposed.
STAR 9 for teachers represents an entirely different sort of test. This test not only examines the students' academic performance, but also the teachers' performance as well. Mr. Mackensen, a mathematics teacher at Sutter Union, says, "It's not perfect, but you can't let perfection keep you from using something pretty good."
If scores come back in the acceptable range, then teachers have done their part and go on with teaching — again, with no reward at all. But if scores come back in the red, the school or even the Board of Education directly makes the necessary changes. This can be as serious as taking away administrative control from the locally elected board.
What most students don't realize is that although it may not affect them directly, the test can do catastrophic damage to a school if not taken seriously.
So here's the problem. Without any sort of reimbursement for advanced performance on the STAR 9 and no penalty for performing poorly, most students do not perform as best as they can, which potentially puts a damper on the school's future.
Some people think we should incorporate STAR 9 test results into the list of tests evaluated by colleges. The STAR 9 tests do keep the California education system accountable, but without any reward or punishment, the system is not 100 percent effective.
Sutter Union High School thinks steps need to be taken to change this.