Texas 3rd graders through high schoolers take STAAR standardized tests

By: Allison Harris Email
By: Allison Harris Email

GRAYSON CO., TEXAS -- This week, Texas students, from 3rd grade through high school, will spend at least four hours testing for the STAAR exams, the state's annual standardized tests.

Last year was the first year Texas adopted the STAAR tests, which were previously the TAKS tests.

The Texas Education Agency says STAAR focuses on students's "readiness for success" by testing them in reading, writing, math, science and social studies throughout their public school careers.

The tests put the pressure on students, teachers and schools alike.

This week, Texas schools are administering the STAAR tests -- measuring how well teachers are teaching and whether kids are absorbing their lessons.

"It's a gage that parents and community members look at and say, 'How well are our schools doing?'" Brent Hoy said.

Hoy is Director of Assessment for Denison ISD. He says last year's STAAR test results were powerful enough to change the district's curriculum.

DISD is altering its math programs in an attempt to improve their math test scores.

"We're in the process of re-vamping our mathematics training for teachers. We're looking at the overall math program and we'll be re-vamping that this summer," Hoy said.

Sherman ISD Elementary School Principal Amy Porter sees firsthand how nervous some of her teachers get when these tests roll around.

"They've done a really hard job teaching the kids all year long and now it's their time to shine, so they just hope the kids can apply everything that they've been taught," Porter said.

Students can also feel the pressure. Hoy suggests students take good care of themselves before test day.

"Get a good night sleep. Have a nice meal tonight. Wake up in the morning. Have a good breakfast," Hoy said.

"The main thing we want them to do is to know to apply everything that they've been taught, so we just tell them you can do this and you're ready and just to do your best," Porter said.

Right now, high-schoolers take the most STAAR tests, totaling 15 end-of-course exams. A bill in front of Texas legislators would cut that number down to five.

Hoy says that's a great idea.

"Fifteen exams is excessive and is something that we believe puts undue stress on the students," Hoy said.

On STAAR testing days, students will spend 4 hours -- on average -- testing.

Hoy says one problem with this form of standardized testing is that the performance outcome could come down to just how a student is feeling that day.


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