Do you have a child that attends school in the state of Texas? If so, there’s no doubt you have heard about the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, better known as the STAAR test. In the spring of 2012, the Texas Education Agency replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, better known as the TAKS test, with the STAAR test. Whether we agree with standardized testing or not is a nonissue when it comes to our children in the classroom. They have to take the test, regardless of our opinions.

The reason for the overhaul of the TAKS test was due to concerns surrounding the effectiveness in measuring the academic progress of students. The STAAR tests on the other hand, are designed to better assess progress at every grade level toward “postsecondary readiness.” These tests are considered to be much more complex; therefore, it will take excellent preparation to pass them. The dates for upcoming STAAR tests are:

• May 1-5 — End of Course, Biology, Algebra I and U.S. History

• May 8 — Math for grades 3-7

• May 9 — Reading for grades 3-7

• May 10 — Science for fifth and eighth grade

• May 11 — Social Studies for eighth grade

Retest dates are:

• May 8-9 or June 20-21: Reading and math

• June 19-23: English I, English II, Algebra I, Biology and U.S. History

Do not underestimate how important STAAR prep is. It is vital that students attend class regularly, participate, keep up with assignments and ask for help when they don’t understand something. If a student doesn’t have a firm grasp of the basic concepts he/she has little to no chance of doing well on a test. Again, there’s no denying that these test are difficult, intimidating and can be stressful, but with our help you do not need to worry. If you or your child is not satisfied with academic performance take a moment to reflect on the level of investment your child is making in school all year, rethink priorities, set up a conference with your child’s teacher to discuss a plan of action, and encourage your child to attend tutorials.

In addition, you can find programs on the district’s website (www.hitchcockisd.org) as well as TEA’s website (www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar) to aid in your child’s success. TEA’s website offers STAAR FAQS, more detailed explanations about specific testing policy and sample questions. Here are some additional tips to help your child through testing week:

• Get enough sleep the night before.

• Eat a good healthy breakfast.

• Focus and address each question individually.

• Don’t forget all the test taking strategies the teacher has taught in the last several months leading up to testing.

• Plan on taking your time.

• Be sure to follow any written or verbal instructions you receive about the test.

• Tell yourself, “I am smart. I can do this!”

• Relax.

Again, there is no need to despair. With the proper guidance and preparation your child can and will be successful. Let’s work together as a team to make this happen. Go bulldogs!

Sharanda Harrison-Anderson is the district testing coordinator at Hitchcock Independent School District.

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