STAAR Test Prep 101: Everything New Teachers Need to Know!

Hello and welcome, educators! Whether you’re a fresh face in the teaching profession or simply gearing up for your first STAAR test, you’re in the right place. Today, we’re diving deep into the STAAR 101 guide for new teachers and exploring the latest updates. So, let’s get started!

You have the option to either watch the video or continue reading.

Hi there, I’m Angela, the teacher behind Custom Classroom by Angela. Just to clarify, I’m not associated with TEA or STAAR.

1:  Understanding STAAR Test Basics

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of the latest STAAR updates, let’s start with the basics. Understanding these foundational aspects is key to being an effective educator and getting your students ready.

So, let’s talk about the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR for short. It’s a pretty big deal because it measures how well your students grasp the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards across various subjects, all the way from 3rd to 12th grade. It covers a wide range of topics and subjects.

Oh, and speaking of understanding STAAR, I’ve got a neat 7-part series that breaks down why the test changes and what you really need to know. Check out the playlist – it’s packed with insights that’ll help you wrap your head around the test’s evolution and how it affects your teaching strategies. Remember, getting a handle on these basics sets the stage for your teaching approach and helps you guide your students toward success in these assessments.

Let me break down what the test actually involves. It’s not just one-size-fits-all; it’s tailored to each grade level and subject. The goal? To check how well your students understand things, think critically, solve problems, and use what they’ve learned. So, getting the lowdown on your specific grade level and subject test structure and content is pretty crucial.

Here’s a tip: dive into those test blueprints. They’re like treasure maps showing the distribution of questions across different topics within each subject. These blueprints give you the scoop on which areas get more attention in the test. That way, you can adjust your teaching focus accordingly to match those priorities.

STAAR test blueprint image

Oh, and in case you’re wondering where to find these blueprints, I’ve linked them in the description below. Also, check out my video where I’ve rounded up nine super helpful STAAR-related links for teachers. Trust me, they’re handy tools to have in your teaching arsenal.

Let’s talk about what STAAR really expects from our students. Understanding what the test wants from students – how it’s set up, what it covers, and the kind of thinking it demands – gives us the power to plan our lessons better. We can tweak our teaching methods, create focused lesson plans, and give assessments that actually prep our students for acing those STAAR tests.

Want the inside scoop on the new item types and changes that can make a big difference for your students? Check out my video all about the latest STAAR changes. It’s got everything you need to know.

STAAR test image of new item types

2: Strategies for STAAR Preparation

Alright, let’s get down to some key strategies to prep your students for the STAAR test in your first year. We’re talking about the good stuff: planning like a pro, using formative assessments, and bringing in that personalized teaching touch.

First off, you’ll want a solid study plan in place. Think of it like a roadmap for your students. Also, toss in some practice tests – they’re gold for getting students familiar with the test format.

STAAR test image of 4 week boot camp outline

Now, here’s the kicker – ever heard of a ‘STAAR boot camp’? It’s a great way to help students brush up on everything they need for the test. Want to know how to set up this boot camp step by step? Check out my ‘How to Plan a STAAR Boot Camp‘ video!

Here’s a crucial reminder: creating a classroom vibe that’s supportive and positive is a big deal. It’s all about making your students feel confident and easing those pre-test jitters.

Encourage them, pump up their confidence, and hey, let’s toss in some stress-busting tips. Teaching them how to manage stress and practice mindfulness can work wonders in calming those nerves.

STAAR Test Positive Mindset image

Oh, and here’s a neat trick: try out my STAAR guided visualization with your students. It’s like a mental prep session that can really help them feel ready and focused when test time rolls around.

3: Updates in STAAR Redesign

Let’s talk about the latest in the STAAR updates. There have been some major changes in the test formats, question item types, and how things are scored. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has been on the move, rolling out some changes that are worth knowing about.

One of the significant changes is the ECR – that’s the Extended Constructed Response written question that’s now added to every tested grade level. It’s a bit of a tough one, but here’s the deal: start prepping your students early for this part. But before that, you’ve gotta know exactly what this ECR thing is all about.

Example of a Sample ECR student response

Jump into my ECR playlist; it’s packed with info that’ll give you the lowdown on handling this new item type.

Also, here’s a tip: check out the released student samples. They’re like gold – they show you precisely what’s expected at your grade level.

Be sure to take a look at my free ECR checklist and RACES strategy planning page! They’re incredible resources to assist your students in their preparation.

Picture of ECR checklist and Races strategy planning pages

4: Practical Tips and Resources

Alright, let’s wrap this up with some handy tips and resources to make your STAAR test prep journey smoother.

  1. First things first, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’re not alone in this – there are folks all around campus with the knowledge you need about STAAR. Sharing the load makes the whole process way less stressful, trust me. Keeping your stress in check also helps your students stay calm and focused. You can always email me if you have questions ([email protected]). 
  2. Next up, videos are your friends! I get it; time is tight, but sneaking in a few minutes here and there to watch my free STAAR videos can really boost your understanding. The more you know about what’s expected, the better you can guide your students.
  3. Oh, and speaking of resources, check out TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers). There’s a treasure trove of activities crafted by experienced educators like myself who’ve been prepping students for STAAR for ages. These resources are gold for your teaching arsenal.
  4. Lastly, staying up-to-date with TEA changes can be a handful. Save yourself the trouble and join my email list. I’ll keep you in the loop with the latest updates without you having to sift through tons of info.

Don’t forget your dedication to your students’ success really matters. Being flexible, adaptable, and open to trying new things in your teaching can make a huge difference. Keep up the great work! 

Thank you for joining me today!

I really hope this STAAR guide gave you what you needed for an awesome test prep ride. If you found this video helpful, give it a thumbs up, share it around, and hit that subscribe button for more STAAR help. Good luck with your teaching adventures! Until next time, keep rocking that classroom.

Happy teaching!

Share it: