5 Tips for a Seamless Transition to Online Testing

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 kerri@foresight-education.com if you have any questions about my experience with online testing!


This year has been so hard for kids and teachers alike but many never wavered or gave up. There really is something about how resilient and determined these groups are. Yes, the kids may have some gaps and the teachers are dog-tired, but we all survived and are better people for it. The big take away from today (May 19th- the day the STAAR pass/fail scores for us were released) is that while the scores are important for now, the resiliency and determination is really the STAR SCORE. This is super cheesy but O.M.G. how can you really not see the personal growth of these phenomenal peeps and compare that to a content test that represents one moment in time?!?

I am so grateful for all of my co-workers and these kids (go middle schoolers!). Short post- but quick to the hook- YOU ARE THE REAL STARS! In this crazy year, you guys have made some pretty tremendous impacts on us!

Lift Off!

No biggie- just a regular Sunday…a few hours to work a little, dream a lot, and then get ready for the real world tomorrow. Today was different though. I am the dreamer of the two- the impulsive, seat of my pants, LET’S DO THIS partner who needs somebody to remind me to pump the brakes every now and then. Kerri is organized, strategic, focused, and now READY to publish! This is a big deal. So today, May 2nd, we have a live Facebook page! We have signed up to have an exhibitor booth at a show this summer. We have submitted a proposal to present at a conference. Suddenly- I am a little freaked out! This is awesome; are we ready to retire? How do we fit this in? The logistics are a work in progress but we’ve got one HECK of a product! US!

Email us if you want to check us out! We can help with all of your special education needs! 🙂

We’re really doing this…

I’ve never been a risk taker in my professional life. I’ve never been attached to money, never wanted the spotlight, and definitely never needed to have close interpersonal relationships. Well, COVID19 hit and scared me into taking calculated risks, appreciating people, and enjoying the little things in my life.

Personally, it is a totally different scenario. I lived my best life for many years: studied hard, played hard, traveled the world, met beautiful people, and adopted a child. I found my authentic self. I fell in love, fell out of love- found contentment with my current situation.

Then I took a risk in my professional life. I got a new job. This was a really big deal for me; I’m a bit of a people-watcher, don’t usually care to have or make friends, and definitely loved that 7:15-4:15 job. All was good, even though my co-workers thought I was allergic to light. (I have a sensory thing with fluorescent lights) I just knew that I was different from everybody else and that was fine because I was out of there as soon as my time was up.

Then, slowly but surely, I began to let my quirks out. That brain “itch” that happens when I hold my tongue or pretend to be someone I’m not, got too strong. I let my authentic “Shellen” come through. Nobody ran away from me like they have in my past. A year and a half later- I have adult friends! I am still pretty shocked.

My friends accept me as I am and understand that I think differently. They trust me that I know what I am doing even though I can’t communicate my process. The most exciting part is that they encourage me to be my best self. One in particular and I hope she will introduce herself to you in a blog soon. <fingers crossed>

And here we are, finally to the point of this long story, my friend (she who shall not be named yet) and I are starting a business. WE ARE REALLY DOING THIS! She is one of the smartest people I know- intuitive, discerning, uncomplicated…and she chose me to start a company with! That is one hell of a pick-me-up!

Anyhoooooo, details coming soon to the really cool things that we have been thinking and dreaming of to help our fellow educators out. We are going to show you guys some love and some products that will make everything a bit easier from our classroom to yours.

And KP, write a blog already- people need to know your name 🙂

Dentist Appointment, School Job.

If you don’t work in a school, I want you to think about going to the dentist to have a cavity filled. Think about the anxiety while you are waiting to be brought to the back, the moans and cries around you when you get back there, and the impending whirring and grinding of your teeth. Then the procedure- jabbed in the mouth, a little relief, then buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz- you don’t really feel it but O.M.G. when will this end? It drags out forever and you are on the verge of <insert almost any emotional reaction> then it is over. It took minutes but felt like hours and when it’s over you literally don’t have any concept of time. You get the bill and think “Damnit! I am going to do better this time. Brush, mouthwash, AND floss”!

This is all symbolic of working in education- I don’t care what your “Title” may be. We all feel the tinge of anxiety in the morning. Am I going to be all I can be for my kids? Are they going to learn and grow into better humans? Am I enough? Did I put on enough antiperspirant?

Followed then by the moans and sighs of those negative Nelly’s (STAY OUT OF THE LOUNGE) and of course, sometimes the students who sometimes are not ready to get started or don’t feel good, or have a pencil, hungry, tired, abused, neglected, rejected…

Then the routine (our saving grace)- we get started on our work, the same way we do everyday. Suddenly, the anesthetic kicks in (figuratively LOL). We are on our game…the big show- the perfectly orchestrated schedule known to all: attendance, warm-ups, I do-We do-You-do, group work, hugs and high 5s. You can’t beat this feeling! It goes by so fast!

Then you remember your cavity. She’s just sitting there slouched over; she’s sick/dirty/hurting/you get the picture. Should we just pull her? Get rid of the pain? No. You are going to be the dentist and scrape away at the bad to get to the good. She is worth the extra time and effort. Does it hurt you that she is not doing her work or that she is hurting? I hope it is the 2nd choice. Give her attention, love, space, food; model compassion and empathy. Save the tooth by fixing the cavity. Every bit of effort will make a difference. You can and will be the difference for this child. This short amount of time that seems so fleeting will change the trajectory for this child. The sharp edges may be a little softer but the pain will be gone. You can’t save every tooth but it is in your responsibility to try.

AND- don’t even get me started with how the effects of good dental health could’ve prevented the cavity in the first place- but I think you get my drift.

In the beginning…

Why Education?

I love this question. It hits to the heart of so many educators and most have unique answers when asked this simple query. My response is probably more similar to a lot of professional educators but also quite different so I will start from the beginning.

My mom is a teacher. She tried the administrator thing–hated it. She missed the kids and being in the action; the growing of the minds and changing of the mindsets, helping little kids to become sophisticated humans…

If she could do it, I could do it. I had tried every other thing out there, every career, every degree plan, every country- nothing else stuck. So, tiny hometown middle school, here I come! I started out with special education and stayed there for all three (count them…3) years I was in the classroom. I really liked the idea of doing what my mom did when I was little- teaching resource. I made my classroom so cute with word walls, birthday month bulletin boards- you know, style but no substance. I was too dumb to know that though.

The first day the kids come to school and, holy hell, it did not look like my mom’s resource group from 20 years prior. These were 17 of the biggest and baddest middle school boys (and one very sweet girl) who had no shame, and I swear had no idea that a desk was made for sitting in. They ran in, threw stuff, cussed, threatened, and gave me a run for my money.

I hated it. I wanted to leave right then and there. I had no supplies, no curriculum, no help. These 18 hellions needed me though. They were my hellions. I had to teach them how to walk in a room. It was my responsibility to show them how to sit in a desk rather than throw it. I also had to model keeping my calm by not cussing them back, threatening to send them away, and to love them unconditionally. I asked myself daily, “Why education?”

I also answered myself daily. I affirmed why I was there daily…for my hellions; I was there for my hellions. These little creatures that I was going to teach for all three years of my classroom teaching career. I had to show them the light because if I didn’t, it would never get better for them OR for me. It was easy to start with social-emotional development (didn’t know that was thing back then) because I didn’t have anything else to teach them.

I reached down deep into my psychology studies (thank you 18-year old me for thinking I was interested in that subject). I remembered that in order for kids to develop they must first have their basic necessities met. I fed them every morning. I gave them access to clean clothes and a shower every day. I went to their games and advocated for them every time the coach wanted to kick them off the teams. It I learned that nobody had ever given them the time to learn what they liked or shown them compassion. Many of them had parents who were addicted to drugs, in jail, missing, indifferent.

So, why education? Because I am needed. We are needed. People who care about people are needed. Is it glamorous? No. Is it always fun? No. Do we always feel successful and appreciated? No and definitely no. Somebody has to take these kids and do what my mom loves to do- mold them into more sophisticated humans than when you got them. Teach them to be lifelong learners, ask questions and how to find the answers, think deeply and give them love, compassion, and understanding. Teach them that the world sucks but they have the capability to change it for the better.

Plus- education offers excellent job security! 🙂