McKinney mom prevents children from taking STAAR test




Posted on March 27, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 28 at 2:18 AM

Did Jannine Neely go too far by keeping her children from taking the STAAR exam?

McKINNEY — Jannine Neely says enough is enough.

The McKinney mom is pulling her kids out of school in protest as the state rolls out the new STAAR test. The exams are more rigorous than the TAKS test, and there are more of them.

Neely was the only parent in the entire McKinney ISD who purposely kept her kids home to prevent them from taking the STAAR test. She believes the exam puts too much pressure on administrators, teachers — and especially the kids.

Kate Neely, 14, says she was so stressed taking TAKS in third, fourth and fifth grade she joined an anxiety support group.

"What if this happens? What if this happens? What if this happens? All because of this one test, not mattering how good I've done in the year," said the eighth-grader.

Kate's angst frustrated her mother. "If the students do not perform well on one test, it doesn't matter what they've done all year long —  they do not get promoted to the next grade level," Neely said.

With STAAR, like TAKS, the stakes are still high. Beginning next year, the test will account for 15 percent of a student's grade.

Neely claims that schools are again placing too much emphasis on STAAR. "You hear the word 'STAAR' at least once from all the teachers you go to, every day of the year," Kate said.

But is this McKinney mom denying her daughter the opportunity to gain valuable experience taking a test like STAAR? After all, she will have to take the SAT or ACT to go to college.

“Educate them properly. Don't teach to one test," Neely said. "Educate them now, so that when they get to a point where they have to take those tests so that they are competent on those tests and they won't just have to pass a Texas test."

McKinney ISD spokesman Cody Cunningham said many Texas school districts agree with Neely's viewpoint. "The state has placed too much emphasis on testing,” he said.

But Cunningham also said there's another problem: “The public places too much emphasis on school ratings."

Since the STAAR test doesn't count against students' grades this year, the Neelys will not face repercussions.

District officials say there are other ways parents can make their voices heard without having their kids sit out, including sending a letter to their lawmakers.