Some students spend long weekend prepping for STAAR exam

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a long weekend for most students but many of them will spend the extra time off with a little extra stress. The STAAR tests get underway next week and the pressure has many students on edge. So what's really at stake and how can you calm your child's nerves?

Lauren Ogburn is a nine-year-old third grader who loves school.

"I like school because you get to learn something new each day," she said.

She's an avid reader but finds math more of a challenge, so much so she asked her parents to find her help ahead of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, simply known as the STAAR test.

"I'm really nervous. Everybody says I'm going to do great. But I'm still just really nervous for the STAAR test, like if I fail or something," Ogburn said. "It's a really big test."

"How do you know it's a really big test?" we asked her.

"I don't know, I just know," she replied.

Ogburn knows because of the emphasis teachers and schools place on the test throughout the academic year.

"You just stress the kids out completely," said Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers.

Fallon says the tests aren't the problem, it's that the results are used to penalize schools and teachers whose students don't perform well.

"If we were using a test as a diagnostic tool, that would make sense. It's being used as a club over the heads of the teachers, and the administrators for that matter," Fallon said.

Ogburn's parents decided to help their daughter by getting her tutoring help at the Sylvan Learning Center.

"I have a lot of students, even the young ones, who come in and they're feeling the pressure because everybody is kind of feeling the pressure," said Leah Cooley, who manages the center's Pearland location.

Cooley says there are things you can do to help your child cope.

"It's very important that you develop a good sleeping schedule. Make sure they go to bed at a good time and get a lot of rest. Start eating healthy meals so that they're feeling well on the day of testing," Cooley said.

And she says stay positive, as Ogburn's parents have done.

"I of course told her that she's gonna do great. And I keep telling her she's gonna do great. But I think the added help definitely has made her feel more secure," Ogburn's mother, Lisa Ogburn, said.

STAAR tests do cover a variety of subjects, and not all grade levels take one on each subject. But the tests do begin next week and last through the month of April, with makeup tests in May.

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