This past week, my students took the 2014 Released Science STAAR Test as a tool for us to measure their progress and help assess what concepts need to be reviewed before the actual STAAR administration in April. For more info on the test visit the TEA website.
Last year, I spent time going over the released test and I had a form for students to fill out showing them what TEKS and concepts they were strong in and which ones were weakness. Ari from The Science Penguin had a great idea for the 5th grade test that I borrowed and adapted for the 8th grade test. On one side it lists the question number along with the TEKS and a student-friendly explanation about that TEKS. On the other side, students graph their raw score so they can get a visual of where they are at this point (have they met the minimum standard, are they just above/below it, or are they well within the Advanced Academic Performance zone?) Then students have a chance to write down 5 strengths and 5 weakness and reflect on the test.
Download the document here!
I can't say enough about how important I think it is for you to educate your students about the STAAR Test itself. They should understand the 4 Reporting Categories, the Readiness and Supporting standards, and the TEKS. They should know how the test is laid out, how many questions from each reporting category to expect, etc...
At the beginning of March I will send home a Parent Letter with each student, informing the students and parents about the plan for upcoming review. My full review typically takes 3-4 weeks prior to the test. During this time, my students complete the following 4 review packets:
Reporting Category 1 Review Packet
Reporting Category 2 Review Packet
Reporting Category 3 Review Packet
Reporting Category 4 Review Packet
I use data that I've collected all year from the district benchmark assessments using Eduphoria. I am still using the tracking method that I posted about in this blog post. Students have been eager to earn their stickers this year and it's become quite a competition. They know which TEKS they've mastered and which TEKS need a little more attention and hard work.
After completing the packets, and going over the released test in detail, students are ready to begin their individualized review catered to their specific needs. I have gathered and created a variety of activities for my students to complete based on each of the TEKS. Students will only work on their weaknesses. This has proven to be most effective because they are no longer wasting their time reviewing material that they have mastered. Reviewing for a test like this can't be "one size fits all."