KILLEEN, TX — The annual STAAR test is in full swing, as students finish up the second and final week of testing.
The STAAR test stands for State of Texas assessments of academic readiness, which measures how much the student has learned over the course of the year. Usually, it will gauge if the student can move onto the next grade or relearn courses of the last.
"We like to think that we prepare all year long," said John Craft of Superintendent of Killeen Independent School District. "We work pretty diligently to not work to teach to the test."
Third grader Gavin Chanbless is taking the exam for the first time this year. Practicing for the past couple months, he finds that he enjoys the reading and math portions of the test.
"I got 100 in math and 100 in reading," Gavin said. "I was a little nervous but as it got closer and we practiced more and more it got exciting."
To keep the pressure off of students like Gavin, teachers try to prepare them all year long. This year alone, 50 percent of KISD freshman and sophomores won't have to take parts of the exam due to their high PSAT scores.
Craft says some parents do show concerns when it comes to the accuracy of measuring academic success with the STAAR test.
State Senator José Menéndez is putting the STAAR to the test with a bill he proposed in early March that would put a two-year hold on STAAR testing.
In the two year hiatus, research will be conducted to ensure the STAAR test is actually "fair" for the students taking it. Menéndez says on average students are taking the test two to three years above grade level.
"This is why when we look at academic progress or academic achievement we look at multiple measures," Craft said. "We look at Math assessments, SAT and PSAT scores."
Craft said parents and students shouldn't stress about the yearly test because students have the ability to perform better in other ways.
"We've seen students that have performed very well in course work very well in assessments and for whatever reason they're just not a good STAAR test taker," Craft said.
The best way to prepare any student the morning of the STAAR test is making sure they have a hearty breakfast. Some schools will even provide a well-balanced morning meal before school starts.