Mother of HISD student refuses to allow son to take STAAR test

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Mom won't let son take STAAR test
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Diego Giesler, 9, may not be graduating

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The state's STAAR tests are no stranger to controversy, but one third-grader's refusal to be tested is raising questions about what kind of say students should have in their own education.

Diego Geisler, 9, wants to be a scientist when he grows up.

"I really like my teacher," he said. "He's real good."

Diego may never make it to fourth grade, not because of his grades or behavior. Both of those are fine. It's because Diego never took the STAAR test.

"It's morally objectionable to do so," his mother, Claudie DeLeon, said. "I believe that it dehumanizes the student, makes them an object for the school district and teachers to get a score out of."

Claudia claims at first, Helms Elementary school administrators told her skipping the test wasn't a big deal.

"On the last day of school, I was very surprised when I got his report card and it said 'retained pending summer school,'" she said.

HISD schools require students pass the test six times, from third through eighth grade.

State law only requires students pass it twice -- in fifth and eighth grade.

"We think it's important that students show some mastery of skills and the skills that are taught in those grade levels," said HISD spokesperson Sheleah Reed.

HISD records indicate only .26 percent of students were absent for any reason, including sickness and vacation, during STAAR testing this year, so we're talking about roughly 600 kids missing school out of 230,000; about the same as last year.

But for this still-third grader, skipping testing means spending the summer studying.

"I want to enjoy summer," he said.