AUSTIN (KXAN) — Teresa Roberson has been teaching for nearly two decades, the last 4 1/2 years at Akins High School in Austin. But on Friday, she called it quits.
She is one of three teachers with Austin Independent School District that told KXAN they quit this school year because they are fed up with standardized testing and the priority it’s become.
When she started at Akins creativity was welcomed, she said. She wrote her own lesson plans and used real-life examples for teaching. With the introduction of STAAR that quickly changed, she added.
“I’m happy that I resigned at the time that I did,” Roberson said. “A lot of my colleagues asked why didn’t you wait and resign at the end of the school year? I didn’t want to wait and go through standardized-testing hell again.”
Roberson believes the pressure of focusing on STAAR and other standardized tests have turned teaching into an assembly line.
“It became a forcing of, ‘Here’s the lesson you’re going to teach,'” Roberson said. “If you don’t do as they tell you to, then nothing you do in your classroom is going to be right. You always get these negative evaluations.”
STAAR results are currently part of teacher evaluations in 85 districts. But the Texas Education Agency says it’s only one part of 51 areas considered in the Personal Development and Appraisal System.
Teresa says AISD also has a merit system in which teachers can earn additional pay based on the improvement in student grades from the beginning to the end of the year. That’s a program designed to help struggling students in certain areas, but some critics of that program say it removes students from daily teaching causing a lag in other areas.
“You don’t get into teaching for the money. You get into it because you’re creative and you care about the kids,” Roberson said. “With the state, the district, and my school…. that’s not the case. When they look at the numbers, when they look at the percentages, they’re not looking at the individual student… as a teacher, I have to look at the individual.”
Roberson says she’s leaving the AISD system but not the teaching profession. She is writing a novel about her experience and says she may consider teaching again where standardized testing is not a priority.