Depending on the age of your child, if he is in at least third grade and is in a Texas public school, he’ll probably be taking the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) sometime soon. Different grades are assessed in different content areas and on different dates. Your child’s teacher can give you the details about the specifics.
Your child’s teacher may be sending home notes with dates and details. Tips for preparing, tips on eating a healthy breakfast and getting a good night’s rest. Tips for encouragement. Details about passing requirements and what time to arrive.
But, this is what your child’s teacher may really want you to know: It’s just a test.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t important to us. It is, in fact, how we are held accountable for teaching the state curriculum. Your child’s scores are our scores. And, there is a lot of pressure — pressure on teachers, pressure on administrators, pressure on district leadership. Sadly, sometimes the children feel that pressure, too.
But, it is just a test. Just one test on one day.
The STAAR is not a reflection of who your child is, of what your child is capable of, of what she will accomplish. It is one measure. Just one of many, many ways that we are continuously monitoring and assessing your child’s progress and readiness.
Your child is more than any one score on any one test.
She is made up of a million moments and experiences. He is made of wishes and dreams and uncertainty. She is eager and bold. He is sleepy, and grumpy, and nervous. He plays soccer or basketball. She is a green belt in taekwondo. He loves video games and graphic novels. She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. He is afraid of thunder, but doesn’t want anyone to know. She always volunteers to help clean up. He invites the new student to play at recess. Timed fact tests always make her nervous. He focuses better on his work when he is able to stand up. She doesn’t like to read in front of other people. His reading level is well below the grade level expectation, but he is reading 15 words per minute faster than he was in the fall. She lets herself in with a key that she wears around her neck after school. He walks home Mondays and Wednesdays, and bikes Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Fridays, his grandmother picks him up.
Your child’s teacher knows all of these things about your child. All of these things and more.
Teachers want their students to do well because we know how much they want to do well.
But it is just one test. And it is our test. And, we are doing our very best.
We are trying to balance best teaching practices with the nuts and bolts work of familiarizing students with test-taking strategies. We are excited to see your child’s growth and we are eager to make our bosses and our colleagues proud. We want to be the very best that we can be in our field, and we desperately want that proficiency to show up in all of the ways that matter. But the STAAR test is just one of the ways that matter. Just one.
It is important. But it is not the only important thing, and it isn’t the most important thing — not about your child, and not about your child’s teacher.