It was a big day for students across the state of Texas. After years of debate and preparation the STAAR test kicked off Monday. Two million Texas students will put their skills to the test this week. The STAAR is replacing the state's former assessment, the TAKS test. The new assessment is harder, longer and has a four hour time limit.
There is a new test in town known as the STAAR and it's further exploring the critical thinking skills of students across the state. Monday ninth graders took the state's new standardized assessment. Later this week elementary and junior high students will jump
on the band wagon. This new test assesses a students ability over one year of school in one of many subjects, making the questions more difficult.
"When you're taking at the high school level for example an end of course exam that's on one subject like algebra 1 you can dig deeper and test at a great depth," said Texas Education Agency Communications Director Debbie Ratcliffe.
Under state law the STAAR must account for 15 percent of a students overall course grade something the TAKS did not do. This year districts had the choice to defer that until next year. WFISD officials decided to follow through with that and hold off on accountability until next year.
"That will give us some time to take a second look at that and analyze how our district wants to use that," said Asst. Superintendent Dr. Tim Powers.
Students in grades third through eighth will not be penalized for low scores because passing standards won't be approved until the end of the school year.
"Their test results this year will be used purely for diagnostic reasons to help teachers determine if the students need additional help over certain areas," said Ratcliffe.
While many teachers across the state were concerned they didn't have enough time to prepare their students for the test Dr. Powers believes WFISD will do just fine.
"Our students will rise to the occasion as have our teachers."
Testing will continue through the week but April and May is when the majority of testing will take place. Students in grades 10 and above will continue taking the TAKS test.