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      Standarized Test Too Much?

      At first it was the TAAS, then came the TAKS and now the STARR - standardized tests - way to evaluate students' achievement at certain grade levels. State Rep. Rene Oliveira said standardized testing is necessary in order to challenge students and teach them to be competitive, but adds there may be too much testing currently in the school systems.

      "Testing is only a snapshot in time, Oliveira said. It doesn TMt tell us how our children are going to do in the future, or what still needs to be done." Oliveira said state legislators are getting ready to enter a new session in January, and bills have already been filed to do away with or modify the stars test.

      "Tweaking may be a light way of saying we need to fix it," Oliveira said. But Jim Windham, chairman if the non-profit Texas Institute for Education Reform is in favor of the test.

      He said the STARR test has been in place for less than two years, and change always come with some resistance and stress.

      He said it would be a gross disservice to students to do away with the rigorous standardized tests.

      "We live in a highly competitive world|and our organization can TMt think of any area of human achievement that doesn TMt have the demands for assessment of achievement, in order to move to the next level," Windham said,

      He adds children all over the state face challenges, not just students in the Valley and that's why it's productive to hold all of them to one common standard.

      "We need to do a lot better with those kids, that's the reason one of things we support, in terms of funding, are the non-foundational grant programs," Windham said.

      Oliveira said standardized testing cannot be done away with but legislators need to come up with a better solution for education.

      "I wish instead of having cut $5.6 billion in public education in the last legislative session, we would've invested in early childhood education, Pre-K - in the programs that help disadvantaged kids, which we have many in the Valley, get ahead," he said.