The Texas Education Agency is requiring districts to administer the STAAR tests in an online testing platform by the 2022-2023 school year. The advantages to making the switch are numerous including enhanced student supports, less paper documents to manage, and quicker test results. While the switch is going to ease many burdens, this is not something that districts should just jump into at the beginning of the 2022 school year. Planning and prep should start now, and here are some tips that will ease the transition and ensure your students are comfortable with the format!
- Practice, Practice, Practice: TEA has created a testing platform pre-loaded with the previous year’s released tests as well as interim assessments. Students can get accustomed to the embedded supports and how the screens flow and transition by regularly practicing on the platform. By giving the interim assessment, districts can run a mock STAAR administration for practice while also getting accurate data on the progress of their students.
- Have a solid plan for devices: If your district is 1:1, it does make it much easier to administer the test. It’s necessary to communicate to students and parents the importance of bringing the device fully charged and ready to test. Even if your district is not 1:1 with technology, the extended window for administering the test accommodates this issue. This year, the online window to administer the test was open for 1 month. This also allows for those who are absent (or quarantined) to have multiple days to take the test.
- Know your students: While the vast majority of students will perform the same (or better) on the online format, you may have students who just don’t jive with using technology to take the test for a number of different reasons. Luckily, the ARD committee still has the option to choose a paper option if it’s in the best interest of the student. Be sure that your diagnostician adds this to the ARD agenda so meaningful discussion can take place to make the determination.
- Train your teachers well: Ensure that your teachers are comfortable with the format through trainings that will ensure a high confidence level in using the platform. If a teacher is not confident and/or reluctant, that is sure to transfer to the students.
- Double and triple check accommodation supports: The accommodation supports in the online platform are AMAZING! But, they must be entered into the ETS system accurately. Oftentimes, students will not speak up during the test to let the test administrator know their supports are missing, so make sure you have a system in place to provide students with their supports.
While this change can be intimidating for some, a successful transition can be made with time and a good plan! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about my experience with online testing!