We have decoded the language of Texas Education Agency’s rhetoric regarding the impact of STAAR on your kid’s assessment. We received several inquiries as to how STAAR is different than TAKS. So we did the reasearch for you and here is the scoop. The main emphasis of testing now is on high level of thinking, problem solving, complex questions, open ended questions and answering within time frame of 4 hours for all grades.
What are the most significant differences between the STAAR assessments and the TAKS assessments?
1. The rigor of items has been increased by assessing skills at a greater depth and level of cognitive complexity. In this way the tests will be better able to measure a greater range of student achievement and establish stronger links to postsecondary readiness.
What it means for your child: Your child will have a harder question paper and will be asked to analyze, critically appraise, and comprehend more complex questions than before.The questions will need higher level of thinking on part of your child.
2. The total number of test items for the STAAR assessments has been increased for most grades, subjects, and courses.
What it means for your child: Your child will have more questions to answer than before as in TAKS test.
3. A four-hour time limit has been established for STAAR assessments, as opposed to TAKS, which was untimed.
What it means for your child: Your child needs to get used to timed tests with less breaks and needs to be trained for creative and high level thinking for continuous four hours.
4. STAAR assessments in mathematics and reading will be linked from grade to grade as well as to postsecondary-readiness standards for the Algebra II and English III assessments.
What it means for your child: Your child will be tested on present grade and might be asked about previous grade course content, so you need to save all the previous years’ subject journals and worksheets. Basically expect a more rigorous question paper.
5. STAAR assessments have been designed to focus on “readiness” standards, which are defined as those Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) student expectations that are not only essential for success in the current grade or course but also important for preparedness in the next grade or course. By focusing on the student expectations that are most critical to assess, STAAR will better measure the academic performance of students as they progress from elementary to middle school to high school.
What it means for your child: Be ready to work hard and push your child harder for STAAR.
6. STAAR writing assessments at grades 4 and 7 will be extended to two days.
What it means for your child: These would be timed tests for writing very different than what it was in previous years. The kids need to practice all forms of writing like expository, interpretive etc. The rigor rubric for writing has been released by Texas Education Agency as of fall 2011 with scale of assessment having 4 levels different than 6 levels in TAKS.
7. The test designs for STAAR grades 4 and 7 writing and STAAR English I, II, and III will require students to write two essays addressing different purposes for writing rather than one longer personal essay, which TAKS required.
What it means for your child: For grade 4 and 7 there would be different topics given to your child to write than before in TAKS. There would be no personal essay about a topic but your kids need to know four forms of writing: descriptive, interpretive, expository and narrative The topics would need your child to think out of the box and needs to be well versed in different forms of writing, with excellent command of grammar, vocabulary and six trait writing skills.
8. In reading assessments for STAAR, greater emphasis will be given to critical analysis rather than literal understanding. The test designs for English I, II, and III will allow for the reading and writing components to be equated and scaled separately so that reading and writing scores can be reported separately. This means that a student will need to retake only the portion of the STAAR English I, II, or III assessment (reading or writing) that he or she did not pass.
What it means for your child: Made the retesting simpler than before.
9. Most STAAR mathematics and science assessments will have an increased number of open-ended (gradable) items to allow students the opportunity to derive an answer independently without being influenced by the answer choices provided with the questions.
What it means for your child: The child need to work independently and work out solution for problem rather than being guided with the answers on question papers. Thus it endeavors child towards more creative problem solving and thinking. The UPS check and problem solving would be emphasized more than deriving a correct answer (though that is needed to get a perfect score).
10. STAAR grade 3 assessments will have separate answer documents instead of scorable test booklets.
What it means for your child: As the STAAR has more open ended questions, the students would be given a separate booklet to record answers unlike scorable test booklets they got in TAKS
SMARTS STAAR Prep: We know you want your children to do the best and we are here to help your child get to the level of rigor you want for them. We would be starting a new batch of classes for grade 3-9 for SMARTS STAAR Prep soon to help kids get over the anxiety of taking STAAR tests. As they say practice makes perfect, so we are designing SMARTS STAAR Prep classes to do just that, our students would be getting enough timed challenges to achieve success in the tests.
We invite any questions you may have regarding STAAR tests assessment, formatting and preparation. Our STAAR prep classes are designed to give students individual attention and seats are limited. Please let us know if you are interested in enrolling your child in our prep classes so that we can plan accordingly.
Contact us to discuss academic and enrichment needs for your child.
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