So, my child failed their STAAR tests. What now?

August 01, 2018

Top tips for persevering toward STAAR test mastery…

Read on for top tips, a free STAAR test prep download, and a special invitation!

STAAR tests are a necessary evil within the Texas school system. Love them, or hate them, they are a fact of life for our kiddos and something that they will have to live through every year of school from third until eighth grade. If your child has failed one or more of their STAAR tests this year, it can be very easy to fear the worst and start imagining your child spiralling down an endless slippery slope of failure in their educational journey, that they might never recover from. If you are that parent fearing the worst-case scenario, this post is for you.

Failing STAAR does not need to have a long-term impact on your child’s academic success. However, responding in a positive and proactive way at this time, could have a lasting impact on what happens for your child moving forwards.

Don’t panic
I know it sounds cliché, but the first thing you should do, is take a deep soothing breath and not panic. A knee-jerk reaction directed at your child at this stage could be very detrimental to their confidence going forward. The worst thing in the world is to let your child think that they have done something wrong by upsetting you or making you angry. If you need to scream or cry, do so away from your child. Take a yoga class, walk your dog, vent to a friend, but at all costs don’t let your child feel that they have let you down.

Don’t make assumptions
Test anxiety and testing technique can play a big role for many children. It’s important to consider these factors before jumping to the conclusion that your child hasn’t grasped the concepts. Ask your child how they felt about the tests? Were they nervous? Did they run out of time to answer all of the questions? Perhaps they are actually pretty confident with a lot of the curriculum content, they just need to refine their test taking abilities.

Set a positive tone for future learning
If your child put the work in and still didn’t pass, it is very important that you still praise them for their effort. Remind them that perseverance is key in order to grow and that you will be so proud of them this year for continuing to put the hard work in, regardless of the outcome. Give them an example of something you found difficult at first, but now are great at to remind them that nobody is born an expert and only by continuing to try can we make progress. Helping your child to see the connection between perseverance and making you proud, will enable them to start the next grade in a positive mindset, ready to try their best, even when the going gets tough. We all make mistakes, and this is a platform to grow.

Get feedback from their teacher
Reach out to your child’s teacher to get more context on what the STAAR report card means and whether the result reflects what they were seeing in the classroom. They will be able to help you to pinpoint exactly what the main areas for development are for your child and help you action plan next steps together. Depending upon the school, they may even be able to offer extra support to help improve their chances of passing next time.

Consider getting extra tutoring help outside of school
You’re not alone. Plenty of children fail STAAR tests every year and there are professionals out there that can help you. Providing extra support for your child at home, is not an option for most busy parents, so seeking professional help can take the pressure off. Tutoring center director Lydia Goss recommends that parents share their STAAR results to ensure that this valuable feedback can be used to help prepare for the next grade. “At Explore Horizons we tailor our learning plans to the needs of every child and unlike many tutoring centers our program is aligned to the Texas curriculum. This means that we can help kiddos with everything they need to know to be successful in their STAAR tests. We also provide the only STAAR prep course in Texas which includes a focus on test taking skills and overcoming test anxiety. Our goal is to ensure the best long-term outcome for every child.”

Don’t frame extra tutoring as punishment
If you do decide to seek extra tutoring outside of school, make sure you frame it as a reward and praise your child for their additional effort. Chose a tutoring center with a positive learning environment where they will also help to build your child’s self-esteem. This will set them up to go above and beyond the following year and ensure that your child doesn’t resent attending. Brittney Reyes, Center Director of Explore Horizons in Colleyville recalls one child who joined after failing his 4th grade STAAR writing test. “He called himself dumb and was so embarrassed and demotivated. Now a year later, he’s one of the best writers in our writing class. He even entered a 500-word short story competition this spring.” Finding the right tutoring center that can support your child’s confidence and motivation as well as their academic skills is a fast track to seeing academic success.

Don’t wait till the last minute to seek extra support
There’s only so much a tutor can do, if you wait until just a month or two before their test to seek help. This is not enough time to build a strong foundation of knowledge. The key is to start as early as possible so that you child has time to actually learn the skills and knowledge needed, rather than just last-minute cramming before the test.

If you would like to find out more about how Explore Horizons can help your child become a fearless learner click through to join us on August 15th 2018 for Back to School Night full of free workshops, resources, and assessments for your child. Also, download our free STAAR prep checklist here!

By Belinda Southgate
Head of US Marketing and School and Community Director

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