Poet stumped by standardized test questions about her own poem

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- An Ohio poet says she cannot answer questions about her own poems on recent STAAR tests administered to middle schoolers in Texas.

Two of Sara Holbrook's poems were published in the STAAR reading tests for 7th and 8th graders in 2013 and 2014.

Both works had been published previously in "Walking on the Boundaries of Change."

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The questions which followed each poem, however, were never asked of the author.

"It's not a valid test because they never asked me," said Holbrook.

She wants to know how the test makers could come to conclusions about what she meant in her poetry without even talking to her.

Any conclusions drawn, she insists, are just speculation.

"The test makers just make this stuff up," she said.

When Holbrook realized what happened, she sent a letter to the Huffington Post, which it in turn, published "I can't answer these Texas Standardized test questions about my own poems".

"I would rather have the poem discussed and have the students write a short reflection on it. But, of course, you can't feed that through a computer," Holbrook said.

Though the students are young, much of their future and success depends on how they score on these tests, which Holbrook calls unfortunate.

Each child, she notes, likely learned to walk on their own schedule, not when the state said they should.

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The Texas Education Agency wouldn't answer specific questions about the questions on these poems and why Holbrook was never contacted.

A TEA spokesperson told ABC13:
"STAAR is an assessment program designed to measure the extent to which students have learned and are able to apply the knowledge and skills defined in the state-mandated curriculum standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Every STAAR question is directly aligned to the TEKS currently implemented for the grade/subject or course being assessed. "
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