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It's here. Possibly one of the most dreaded times of the year in public education has arrived.

But this time, students need not worry "too much" this year because STAAR exam results will not affect 15 percent of student's final course grade as it was originally designed to do.

It will, however, still determine whether or not a student graduates. So study up.

This is the second time the STAAR has been administered since it's introduction to students last spring.

At least 50 percent of Texas public school students failed the writing portion of the STAAR examination last year.

Many parents and educators have questioned the STAAR's usefulness and role in public education.

Teachers I've spoken to have often said there's no real way to study for STAAR. It's all a test of critical thinking skills.

Over the past year, I've covered a number of stories with the same basic theme of preparing students for STAAR via critical thinking exercises, such as the Science Fair or students celebrating the 100th day of school.

Today, at Cade Middle School there was a STAAR exam pep rally.

On Monday, April 8th, a statewide advocay group called Raise Your Hand Texas, will be in Victoria to local educators and community members about the issues their fighting for amidst the current legislative session.

While proponents of STAAR have argued that in order to keep public education accountable, a standardized exam is necessary to weigh each campus, Raise Your Hand Texas feels at the number of examinations should be reduced.

From their website:

"Texas currently requires 15 end of course (EOC) exams for graduation, far more than any other state that uses EOCs as a graduation requirement (5 exams or fewer is typical). This does not include interim assessments administered throughout the year to prepare students for STAAR exams."

What about you? How do you feel about standardized exams? Are they benefitting our schools or just adding water to a sinking ship?