How Much Does The STAAR Test Matter For Students?
Does the STAAR Test matter? Of course it does. It can determine whether a child progresses to the next grade at school or is kept behind.
The test may have consequences for further academic progression. It can even have career consequences down the line. And most importantly of all, it can and will have consequences for a student’s self-worth and motivation.
In fact, the STAAR Test has consequences in all of those areas.
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Can STAAR Results Affect Academic Progression?
Yes. There are three chances to take the STAAR exam, so if a student fails once or even twice, they may still be able to enter the next grade.
If a child is underperforming or fails the STAAR exam once, a student is often placed on an accelerated course of instruction. The student may be placed in a different teacher’s classroom or given extra tutoring during the following academic year or the summer holidays.
If a student fails the STAAR twice, a grade placement committee is put in place to handle the decision-making in all of this.
Students who fail the STAAR two times in high school have to prove themselves to a committee of educators who will then decide if the student should be awarded the high school diploma. Failure to satisfy the committee can see a student missing out on getting that all-important diploma.
There is a big emphasis on getting students to pass the STAAR. This in itself tells us how important the examination is.
What Is The Significance Of The STAAR Test?
The test is important because of the role it plays in a student’s education. It decides if a student can progress further or if a student needs to spend extra time studying for it.
But it is also significant on a personal level. All students, no matter how nonchalant they appear to be about academic progress, do worry about being on the same level as their peers.
And being realistic, none of us enjoy being seen as failures in our efforts to make progress.
For that reason, even the most relaxed student needs to get through the testing process. And the parent or responsible adult in the student’s life is equally anxious to see them succeed.
Using online STAAR practice resources allows both parent and student to better understand the format of the tests.
What Is The STAAR Test?
The STAAR test is an acronym for the State of Texas Assessment for Academic Readiness. The full title gives an idea of the test’s significance.
Essentially it is testing if a student is ready in terms of learning to progress to the next educational level. For the high school student, it is testing if the student is ready to advance to college, university, or even into the workforce.
Failing a STAAR test can mean a student having to repeat a year. This will see them falling behind their friends and that, more importantly, can leave the student with damaged self-confidence.
High school students who fail the STAAR test may fail to get a high school diploma.
What Is Tested In The STAAR?
All students are tested in Math and reading.
Writing, science, and social studies are tested as follows:
- Writing 4th grade and 7th grade
- Science 5th grade and 8th grade
- Social Studies 8th grade
High school students are tested on:
- Algebra 1
- English 1
- English 11
- US History
The Format Of The Tests
Grades 3-8 use paper and pencil to do their tests, with the tests coming in multiple-choice formats. The test time is limited to 4 hours.
High school students experience a more challenging type of test. At this level, the test is called STAAR EOC or end-of-course test.
English 1 and English 11 are five-hour tests with Algebra 1, Biology, and US History exams, each lasting for 4 hours.
All of the tests are multiple-choice.
Is The STAAR Hard?
The test is doable for the average student as it is testing material covered during that year’s schooling. However, for many students, events outside of their schooling can affect their progress during any given year.
There may be unsettling family events, bereavements, or ill health, which impact the student’s ability to do the work. And there may also be in-school factors which, if they pass unnoticed, can severely affect a child’s learning ability.
The most challenging aspect of school exams for the student is that they take place during the most vulnerable times in a young person’s life.
While parents and teachers are advising on the importance of doing the work, students are dealing with their personal concerns.
And Algebra is certainly no consolation if you and your friends have had a serious row or if the dream boy/girl in another grade refuses to acknowledge your existence.
What Help Is Available To The Student?
Schools do everything they can to ensure their pupils get through the STAAR. But sometimes, a student or a parent will need to take action themselves.
To do this effectively, it is advisable to get accurate information about the assessment. Test preparation companies can help with this.
We recommend using TestPrep-Online. With 30 years’ experience in helping students ace their tests, they will provide you with a test prep pack containing:
- Detailed information on the test for the student’s specific grade
- Sample tests papers modeled on the real tests
- A method of checking scores as the student works through the papers
- Detailed explanations of questions and answers
Using the papers, the student will:
- Become familiar with the method of questioning
- Learn to work within the time allowed for the test
- Be able to monitor their progress from test to test
- Develop confidence in their own abilities
How Is The STAAR Scored?
STAAR scores are either a pass or a fail.
A report will state that the student showed Satisfactory Academic Performance, meaning they have passed the test, or Unsatisfactory Academic Performance if they failed the test.
Students with a Satisfactory Academic Performance rating are free to move to the next level when they have completed other tests that their school district may demand.
However, in an ideal world, the student will pass the test and be free to continue with life as normal. And that requires preparation.
But what happens when the STAAR results present other issues that may prove even more challenging than the issue of going on to the next academic grade?
Failing the test may indicate that:
- The student is finding the testing situation challenging
- The student is unhappy
Tips To Prepare For The STAAR
For effective preparation, students will find the following steps helpful:
- Begin the preparation as soon as possible. Delaying it will see you cramming mercilessly in the run-up to the test.
- Keep on top of schoolwork, as this is the material that will be tested.
- Try to work in short bursts of time, followed by breaks. This will help you retain material more easily.
- Make revision part of a weekly routine. When a topic has been covered in school, revisit it a week or two later and again a month or so later. This will give you a better chance of remembering the material.
- Develop habits that will improve academic performance. For example, reading, English, and writing feature strongly in the STAAR. Making reading part of everyday life will help greatly with this. Make a point of attempting one Math question a day, and make sure you understand how to use formulas and math rules. For science, social studies, and US history, develop a habit of attempting questions regularly.
Use The Sample Papers
Using sample papers will ensure that you, the student, are:
- Working on relevant material
- Becoming familiar with the format and timing of the tests
- Quickly identifying areas you are having difficulty with
Working on sample papers will also increase your chances of remembering material. We learn more quickly by “doing” than we do by merely reading a text.
Take Care Of Yourself
Tests are stressful. Get adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Your brain will thank you by working better.
Doing The STAAR
Your approach to doing the test is as important as your approach to your preparation. Your performance on the day is what matters now.
Ensure you approach the test:
- Well-rested and clear-headed. Resist any temptation to engage in late-night study marathons.
- Go in there with the confidence of knowing you have done the work and deserve to ace this.
- You can expect to be nervous, most people are. Have some stress-busting techniques to fall back on before tests. Try deep breathing or whatever works for you.
And a final word of warning! If you are doing more than one test, avoid post-mortems between tests. You cannot change your test once it is submitted. Focus instead on the one(s) that lie ahead
If you are facing the STAAR test, you will find all the resources you need to prepare for it here.
With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.