STAAR Changes Strategies


The Texas Education Agency will distribute the revised State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for students mid-December.

“[Sophomores are] on the front end on taking this test,” Pre-AP English II  teacher, Nancy Allen said.“They’re pioneering the procedure, switching into the STAAR and out of the TAKS test.”

The STAAR test was first distributed to Katy ISD schools last year. The updated standardized test is based on the previous Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test. STAAR retains similar curriculum to TAKS, but with more specific requirements in  English.

“STAAR test tends to ask questions that are a bit more analytical than TAKS,” PreAP English II teacher Marcia Simmons said. “We are stressing thinking, as we always have.”

The department is changing their original teaching lessons in the standardized test season. While some are preparing for STAAR others like Simmons are thinking beyond just December.

“[I] try very hard not to ‘teach the test’. There is life beyond STAAR.,”  Simmons said.

Teachers are scheduling their lesson plans to go with the examples of test material given to them, though some teachers remain unsatisfied with TEA’s attempts at improvement after last year’s low passing rate.

“We don’t know what TEA is doing with these test results,” Allen said. “We need more information, more guidelines.”

As teachers work to use what they’ve been given, some believe the test will be edited to suit the finances of the district instead of student knowledge.

“[The English STAAR test] seems difficult and arbitrary on the English Language tests is that they must write an essay in 26 lines.” Simmons said.

Regardless of the test’s changes, freshman and sophomore teachers are looking for an increased involvement and improvement in the TAKS and STAAR test.

“ I don’t think students need to prepare for standardized tests,” Simmons said “I think students need to pay attention in class, and learn the skills they are being taught. We are teaching skills that will prepare them adequately for STAAR, TAKS, AP exams, and the SAT.”