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New STAAR test moves online, removes promotion requirement and stress

'People put a lot of pressure on students when it comes to the STAAR. We want to take that away,' said TEA spokesman Jake Kobersky.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The first STAAR test of the year is just a few weeks away and exams will be unlike any other assessments given in the past, as testing will be 100 percent online.

The redesign is also getting rid of some multiple-choice answers.

Instead, students will type some of their answers in sentences.

The Texas Education Agency also has taken a significant step forward in how it approaches standardized testing that is helping students and parents breathe a sigh of relief.

"So the grade promotion requirement has been removed,” said spokesman Jake Kobersky. “Previously fifth and eighth graders had to pass the STAAR in order to be promoted. That no longer exists."

This test was believed to be a high-stakes one for students, but Kobersky says it's not.

“People put a lot of pressure on students when it comes to the STAAR,” he said. “We want to take that away."

CCISD Education Coordinator for Elementary Curriculum & Instruction Cynthia Hernandez said preparation, not anxiety, is what the district aims to teach.

“We just know that we want them to feel prepared to confidently take this test," she said.

Hernandez said some strategies, such as making notes off to the side of a reading passage, will still be available online.

"There's a dictionary tool, and a highlighting tool, and then a way students can make notes on the side of the computer,” she said. “So all of those things, and all of those practices has led them to be able to administer this test, and to be able to take this test with confidence."

Up to 75 percent of questions on STAAR tests can be multiple choice, but Kobersky points out that not all classroom instruction is multiple choice.

"If it's part of a short-response answer, a student could actually receive partial credit,” he said. “In providing at least some understanding of what they're being tested on, of the concept. Whereas if it was just strictly multiple choice if they don't answer that appropriate question or the appropriate answer, then they wouldn't get the question right even though they may have grasped 75 percent of the concept."

Ultimately, Hernandez said, the district’s goal is to make sure its students are ready for whatever comes their way.

"We want them to succeed,” she said. “And do the very best that they can in school, but also in life."

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