My first year as an educator in Texas was a fabulous experience. That was in 2012. I loved my administration, and my coworkers had become like family. It was a great place to work. However, as we approached the STAAR test, the atmosphere completely changed.
The fun, the laughter, and the learning turned into rigorous test prep, before- and after-school tutoring sessions, and teachers removing or covering all of their beautiful decorations in classrooms as the state mandated there can be nothing in the room that could possibly aid a student in completing the test. It was a mad dash to make sure every student had all the skills needed to pass the infamous STAAR.
To be quite honest, I was full of anxiety and, if by chance, I made any mistake while administering the test, my educator certification was on the line. It was a dreaded time.
Now, fast forward to March 2020 when the world shut down and the powers that be made the decision to cancel STAAR testing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, however, we are tasked with getting students ready for the TEST. To say this school year has been a challenge is an understatement. I’m sure if you talked with any teacher this year, he or she will tell you preparation is impossible. Educators are responsible for teaching both in-person and virtual students simultaneously, keeping track of grades and missing assignments, and checking in on students’ social-emotional needs. Many have contracted the virus or have had to quarantine due to being exposed to someone with it, leaving the schools scrambling for subs.
Teachers have been angels. To add this enormous task onto an already difficult year, seems unreasonable, but we are here.
So, what do you need to know about STAAR testing changes this year?
- Grades 3-8 will take reading and math exams.
- Grades 4 and 7 will take writing.
- Grades 5 and 8 will take science.
- Grade 8 will take social studies.
- High School students will take end-of-course assessments for English I, English II, Algebra I, biology and U.S. history.
- Test will be administered in-person for both virtual and in-person students.
- 5th and 8th grade students will not be retained if they do not meet state passing requirements.
- Accountability consequences have been suspended this year.
Parents, educators, and students, my only hope is you have extended yourself a lot of grace this past year and continue to do so. It has been incredibly taxing on us physically, socially, and emotionally, and focusing too much on one test score will surely leave you feeling defeated. If you made it through this past year, considered yourself blessed! If your child does well on the STAAR test this year, consider it a cherry on top. If they don’t, there’s always next year.