Surviving STAAR tests

January 27, 2017

Surviving STAAR tests

Spring is in the air, but parents of children in 3rd grade and upwards know all too well that with it comes the dreaded STAAR tests.  They are just around the corner, but what are they, what do they mean for your child, and what support can you offer at home?

What are STAAR tests?

They are the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, but STAAR is much quicker and easier to say.  These state-wide standardized tests are taken by children attending public school from Grade 3 through Grade 8.  The aim is to test their knowledge and understanding of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) – the curriculum framework used by all public schools in Texas.  The skills tested in the STAAR tests are taken from the TEKS in exams on math, reading, writing, science and social studies.  Don’t worry, they don’t take them all every year!  Every grade is assessed on reading and math.  The writing tests take place in grades 4 and 7, science tests take place in grades 5 and 8, and the social studies test takes place in grade 8 only.  The tests are then marked as advanced, satisfactory and unsatisfactory.

What does this mean for me and my child?

Well, lots of things.  On the plus side, it’ll mean you and the school will gain a greater understanding of how your child is doing academically, and some of the key areas they will need support on moving forward.  More specifically, for 5th and 8th graders it means being able to progress on to the next grade.  For 3rd graders, it’ll mean their first formal assessment, and at 4 hours long the STAAR test is a swift introduction to examination.  For all grade levels, the STAAR often means that their schooling in the run up to the tests will be very assessment focused.  This means that children may notice an increased workload and feel increased pressure.  Reducing that stress and strain that your child is feeling will encourage them to enjoy the learning process, enabling them to perform to their fullest potential.

The little things that can alleviate anxiety can make a big difference to your child, such as:

  • Find the balance between motivating and pressuring your child.  Remind them that the test is important, but it won’t define the rest of their lives.
  • Build their confidence.  Spend time studying with them.  Encourage them, use lots of praise and instil a ‘Fearless Learner’ attitude.
  • Coach them on being a good test taker.  It’s not all about knowing the answers; sometimes it’s about careful reading of the questions and paying good attention to instructions.  Understanding timing, managing it effectively and leaving time to check answers can have a big impact on the overall result.
  • Empathize with them.  Tests are stressful and we’ve all had to take them at some point.  Even adults get stressed about tests, and it’s absolutely fine to do so.  It’s just important that they relax and try their best.
  • Help them to view it as a positive, valuable experience.  If you have a positive attitude, it’s likely to rub off onto your child.  Regardless of the end result, you’ll get a good indication of where your child excels, or where they need support, which will help direct their future learning and ensure they succeed in the long run.
  • Make sure their efforts are rewarded.  Plan something positive and fun, for all of their hard work whether the test goes well or not.  Having something to look forward to beyond the STAAR is not only great for them, but it’s nice for you too!
  • Take advantage of free STAAR prep classes in your community.  Join Explore Horizons on February 15th, as we prepare you and your child for the STAAR tests.  Our enrichment and tutoring centers are offering a unique opportunity for local parents to find out more about the tests and how you can help at home.  We are also offering children a free STAAR preparation workshop to help your child get in the zone for STAAR success.

Many parents find the experience of STAAR tests overwhelming, but there is help out there! As well as our free community open evening, Explore Horizons, are the only tutoring center to offer a stress-free, effective, and totally Texas focused STAAR preparation course which is free for all members and runs from January to April.

We don’t want your child’s only learning goal for the year to be passing these tests, but at the same time we know that these measures are essential for ensuring future academic success for our students.  Our unique approach balances the development of overall student ability with developing strategies and confidence for these tests, while not neglecting the passion of our fearless learners.

At Explore Horizons, we have designed our curriculum to help your child reach their full potential all year round, whether they are finding school challenging or in need of enrichment.  Much of the work is aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to fully support what your child needs to succeed in school.  There is also a host of enrichment curriculum designed to stretch children beyond what is tested in the STAAR.  Each child gets an individually tailored learning plan based upon their unique needs in math, reading and writing, which will not only prepare them for the STAAR test but also help them feel more confident in the classroom and promote a lifelong love of learning.

At Explore Horizons, our goal is to create fearless learners who are ready to conquer math, reading and writing!  See how we have helped learners grow and thrive in Texas and the United Kingdom.

 

 

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