The nail-biting and butterflies are making their presence felt among students of the Copperas Cove Independent School District, as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness tests approach on Monday.

In an effort to help parents prepare themselves and their children, Mae Stevens Elementary held a STAAR parent workshop Tuesday.

It was an opportunity to answer parent questions and help both children and parents combat the fear of test-taking and other concerns at this point, said Mary Derrick, principal of Mae Stevens Elementary.

“The STAAR tests are only to see how kids are doing with the curriculum and if they’re ready to advance to the next level,” Derrick said. “We don’t teach to test, but rather the tests test what we’re supposed to be teaching and if we’re doing it well.”

STAAR is the Texas Education Agency program that assesses students’ readiness for standards over the course of their public school career in core-subject areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies.

To prepare, parents should get their children to bed early the night before a test, make sure they have a good breakfast the next morning and that they arrive at school early, Derrick said.

Though she was nervous and doesn’t like test-taking, substitute teacher Tasha Cross said her strategy the week before testing is to let her son go outside and play.

“I don’t want to overload his brain with too much study,” she said. “Plus we have great teachers here, so I know he’s prepared.”

Mae Stevens school nurse Brandy Petty has three kids at the school, two of whom will be taking the test next week, and she said she isn’t making them study at this point.

Nicole Penland, a representative of Fort Hood Parent to Parent Team and a presenter at the parent meeting, said she read an article that claimed chewing gum for five minutes before testing helped students improve their scores for the next 30 minutes.

“It was in Washington Post article and it cited research out of St. Lawrence University in New York, Cardiff University in the UK and Forbes magazine,” she said. “I don’t know how true it is, but whether it’ll provide cognitive benefits or a simple confidence boost... I say ‘pass out the gum.’”

The 2013-14 STAAR Assessments will test third-graders in math and reading; fourth-graders in writing, math and reading; fifth-graders in math, reading and science; sixth-graders in math and reading; seventh-graders in writing math and reading; eighth-graders in math, reading, science and social studies; and End of Course testing in algebra I, biology, English I & II and U.S. history.

Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro | Herald

A journalist by trade, Corinne has written for both the military and civilian populations. She has a Master's in Writing and Bachelor's in English. She is also a military spouse and her family is currently stationed at Fort Hood.

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