To My STAAR Testing Teacher Friends

This post is coming out a day early because tomorrow is the first day of STAAR testing for our fourth and fifth grade babies. I am always appalled at what all we ask our kids to do at 9 and 10 years old. Sit still for FOUR HOURS?!?! My gracious, even I can’t do that. Stare at a paper full of words and numbers for FOUR HOURS! It makes me sad that we ask our kids to show their progress on a test that a lot of times, is not even at the level where they are.

A letter to all of my friends for the STAAR test.

I remember one the most important things my exchange teacher for Teacher Fellows, Kristin, told me during my first year of teaching. It was around the time we were getting ready for STAAR and EOY testing. I can’t really remember the words she used or anything like that. But her message stuck with me:

Just because a kid doesn’t pass a standardized test, doesn’t mean they haven’t learned or grown this year. Sometimes a kid will come in to third grade on a reading level 18 and progress up to a 28 by the end of the year. That IS progress. That IS growth. It just doesn’t match that of what the state or district says is acceptable.

I try to keep that in mind when STAAR testing comes around. Like I’ve said in some of my previous posts, I don’t teach in a STAAR grade currently. But my attitude towards STAAR has always been very stress free. I am not worried about the test. I don’t worry about the test. What good does it do? (which this is really ironic because….I stress about pretty much everything.)

For the most part, I think teachers bust their asses at work each and every day. We work REALLY hard to create the most engaging and intentional lessons we can. We meet with those low kids and provide enrichment for those high kids. We make learning fun and we make learning challenging.

I never give my kids “tests” just for the fun of it. Why? Because that doesn’t show their learning. Wanna know the best learning I have ever seen? It’s in the projects that allow them to express themselves. The times when they get to create. Not when I hand them a End of Unit exam. Those things stress ME out. I can’t imagine what my 7 and 8 year olds feel.

Actually…I can. They have deflated looks on their faces the whole time and keep telling me “I don’t get this.” Sometimes they cry.

So all this to say…I know that there are some teachers running around right now like a chicken with their head cut off. They are losing sleep over this test. They are stressing and worrying about how their kids will perform. I challenge you to stop thinking that way.

Instead, I hope that you are able to think about ALL that you have taught your kids this year! I hope you can remember all the little light bulbs you have watched go off in the middle of a small group lesson. Encourage those thoughts in yourself so that you can encourage them in your students.

When you stress over the test, the kids pick up on it. They sense it. They know it.

We have to be the biggest champions of our students. Which means we have to be the biggest champions of ourselves. If we can’t believe in ourselves as teachers, how can we ever ask our students to believe in themselves?

Good luck, teacher friends!

Until next time,

Read my other posts on STAAR testing:
STAAR Camp
STAAR Games for Review

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