EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Three years after the bill was approved, TEA (Texas Education Agency) is now implementing an entirely online STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) testing format and local school districts are ready for the upcoming testing session.
Along with the entire test being online, some changes were made to the type of questions as well.
“It’s the way that students are answering the questions, not necessarily the material itself,” explained Jaime De La Torre, director of instructional support at Anthony ISD.
Students will now have multipart questions that require explanations rather than just the usual multiple-choice questions.
Anthony and Socorro ISD officials say they have been preparing for this change since the announcement was made by TEA and that students have already been doing their interim tests on the same platform online.
“I don’t believe it’s going to be a problem to do the test online because our teachers which we have amazing teachers they have adapted to how the students will have to respond on the test they do that with them in the classroom,” said De La Torre.
Instructional Officer for Secondary Science at SISD, Frank McDonald said that COVID had already given them “a jumpstart on technology,” so the teachers and students already had to adapt to testing online.
Even though, this change still required more work from teachers.
“The fact that we are preparing on paper for an online test, it’s still a lot of work that has to be done on the teacher’s side,” added De La Torre.
Another potential challenge with the test being done on computers is for students with special needs.
SISD Director for Research and Evaluation Kelly McBain said, however, the new online platform offers additional features that could be even more helpful in comparison to doing the test the traditional way.
“Students can hover over a word for example, or a picture might show up or a definition might show up, so it’s easy its embedded in the test,” explained McBain.
Teachers will also be able to provide additional assistance to those students if needed.
As far as any system failures go, districts say TEA allows a time testing window.
“If, for instance, today the internet went down then we wanted to test tomorrow we would be able to that’s not a problem,” explained De La Torre.
Though the pandemic has already put a strain on both teachers and students, educators don’t think the new testing format will make them fall behind even more.
“We’re making up for instruction along with a new way to respond to questions, that’s gonna be another shift but I don’t believe it’s going to be a shift that is going to affect our academic results tremendously,” said De La Torre.
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