Students across the state of Texas began taking the state’s newest standardized tests for the second year in a row, including those in local Central Texas school districts.
At the beginning of this month, students in the Killeen Independent School District, the Copperas Cove Independent School District and others once again began the process of taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). The test was first introduced to districts during the 2011-12 school year as a more rigourous replacement for Texas’ previous testing system, known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).
The new tests are focused on critical thinking and college readiness, and feature grade-specific tests for students in third through eighth grades, and multiple subject-specific tests, known as end-of-course exams for high school students.
After the district’s first year administering the new tests, KISD’s chief academic officer Diana Miller said the process was going well this year, particularly at the high school level.
“I think we have a system in place that creates a smooth process,” Miller said. “So that every student is taking the appropriate assessments.”
Killeen began testing its students on Monday. Some schools in the district kicked off the week with pep rallies and other events for students.
“The campuses planned activities and events to encourage students to perform at their best and encourage them,” Miller said.
On Friday, Miller said that KISD finished the testing for nonhigh school students. According to the school district official calendar, STAAR testing will continue into May.
The Copperas Cove School District also began administering the state’s assessments tests Monday, and will continue through May 17, according to CCISD’s official testing calendar.
This year, more high school students will be taking the STAAR. The test is being phased in at the high school level. Last year, only ninth-grade freshmen took the end-of-course exams, while 10th- and 11th-grade students continue taking the TAKS tests. This year, ninth and 10th-graders will take the STAAR, and only the 11th grade students will take the TAKS. For the 2013-14 school year, the 11th-grade students will be phased in.
Scores for this year’s round of testing are expected to be given to the districts by the end of May. Initially, STAAR testing included a requirement that high school EOC scores count toward 15 percent of their final grades in key courses; however, Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced in December the suspension of the rule until the 2013-14 school year.
While the testing process may seem familiar to some students after last year, next year may bring even more changes to the testing system. State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, of Killeen, has introduced a new bill that would reduce the number of required tests from 15 to five.