STAAR testing is once again upon us with fourth- and seventh-graders doing the writing portion today, fifth- and eighth-graders doing the math portion today and the reading portion Wednesday. I have a ninth-grader taking the end of course English exam today and I know some 10th-graders who will take the English II test on Thursday. In early May, a whole new round happens. You can find the testing calendar here. Good luck everyone.
I think I’m like many parents and teachers who cringe at the idea of these tests and wonder about whether they actually reflect what our kids know. Yet, I dutifully made sure my son at breakfast today and packed his lunch because the testing schedule somehow requires me to do so.
A few years ago, I wrote about kids who were having stomach issues and other ailments because of the pressure of STAAR testing. You can read that story here.
Some of the best advice from that article was Principal Amy Kinkade’s advice to kids:
■ If you get stuck, instead of getting frustrated skip the question and go back later.
■ Relax and take some deep breaths. Give yourself little breaks and stretch.
■ Take questions a few at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed by the number of questions.
■ Read the questions aloud to yourself.
■ Drink lots of water, chew gum and have protein snacks during the test. It’s all about keeping the brain fed and active.
■ Think of taking the test as cracking the code. Every question might have an element of trickery, so try to understand what the test is really asking.
■ Do positive self talk: I can do it. I’m smart. I know this. I’ve learned this.
The best advice to parents. Try to get kids to sleep the night before, have kids eat a healthy breakfast and above all else, don’t put too much pressure about the test on your kids. Give them encouragement, but don’t make it a thing.
If you haven’t yet read our story about the alternative test for children in special education, read that here.
You can read our editorial about the STAAR, here.