High school junior, Kyron Birdine of Arlington, Texas was suspended for tweeting a photo of his one sentence essay answer on the STAAR exam. As reported by WFAA News 8, Birdine used his iPad to snap a shot of his answer, “I have the TAKS test to study for, not this unneeded craziness.” He filled out the rest of the page with the word “YOLO” (“You only live once”) and a happy face emoticon. The tweet was sent to the Arlington Independent School District (ISD) and the Texas Education Agency as a protest against the new STAAR test. About the test Birdine said, “It wasn’t for a grade. Colleges don’t see it. It didn’t help, it didn’t benefit my personal life at all.”
The STAAR, State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, standardized test is a new testing program which is used by the state to evaluate educational outcomes for those entering the ninth grade in the 2011-2012 school year. Those students entering the ninth grade before that school year, like Birdine, are being issued the test to help perfect future versions of the exam. In Birdine’s case, the STAAR test does not impact graduation, instead he will be graduating under the TAKS, Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, testing standards.
The Arlington high school junior’s tweet raised red flags and officials called the photo a breach of security which required punishment. He was issued a four-day on-campus suspension for the tweet and was forced to delete it. But Kyron’s mom, Kiana Daw, disagrees with the suspension and said that the photo did not reveal any questions or answers. Daw said, “I think it’s excessive punishment. I mean, that’s the type of punishment you should get for something really, really severe.” The Arlington ISD released a written statement, “Today there was an incident with a student tweeting a picture of an answer booklet for a STAAR field test. We have made an initial report of the incident to TEA and will continue to investigate further. The student has been punished in accordance with district disciplinary procedures.” Kyron says that he stands by his message about the STAAR test, but next time he won’t share it with a picture on twitter.