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Teacher quits over standardized tests

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Thousands of students across Central Texas are finishing up their second day of standardized testing. One teacher in Austin says the culture those tests have created drove her away from the classroom.

"I really thought I would retire a teacher," explained Teresa Roberson. After four and a half years of teaching at Akins High School she resigned last week. It's a decision she says she's been thinking about for quite some time.

"I really tried different strategies if we could collaborate on something this wouldn't be the standardized testing hell it is," explained Roberson.

She taught in schools overseas before joining AISD in 2009. She has 18 years experience in the classroom. This year, her physics classes are not taking STAAR tests.

Ken Zarifis isn't surprised for Roberson's reason behind leaving. Zarifas serves as the president of AISD's teacher union Education Austin.

"We have teachers who have taught for three years and for 30 years and they are fed up because the curriculum is streamlined," said Zarifis.

Zarifas feels more time should be spent teaching than testing. "I'm not saying testing isn't important. I was a teacher. It's our obsession with high stakes punitive measures which is wrong," said Zarifis. "We don't think we should celebrate too quickly on the reduction of 15 tests to five. I'm not sure STAAR is the way to go."

Drew Scheberle is the Vice President of Education for the Austin Chamber of Commerce. He says a common denominator is needed in order to measure how students are performing.

"It's certainly a quality measure you can look at to say how much did you learn in a given area. Employers use it and sports teams use it and you want to have a way to look at performances across high school and colleges," said Scheberle.

The debate about how many tests are too many is far from over. Roberson hopes in the future the emphasis will shift away from teaching to the test.

"It's unfortunate the testing culture has taken over. It's not a bad school it's just a bad system," said Roberson.

The Texas Education Agency released the following statement: 

"Standardized testing programs help educators, parents and the general public determine whether students are learning the knowledge and skills expected in specific grades or subjects. Just as with teacher-made tests, the state mandated tests are based on the state curriculum. STAAR is testing students on material they are learning in class every day. By using those results in our school rating system, we can determine areas of strengths and weaknesses for schools and districts overall. Instruction can be retooled to beef up areas where students are struggling and that is beneficial to many students."

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