EL PASO, Texas -- School districts across the Borderland are hoping that turnout during this year's STAAR testing is high so they can collect good data on whether or not there was a learning loss during online instruction.
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test was cancelled last year because of the pandemic, but this year, the Texas Education Agency required all districts to administer the test.
“We haven’t had that benchmark, even though we do assessments in different ways, this year we’re using the data for an idea of where are students are. Nationwide, the conversation around education has been about the learning loss due to the pandemic. So we need some data to let us know where we’re at,” Melissa Martinez, a spokeswoman for the El Paso Independent School District, explained.
The TEA says that all tests must be taken in-person at the schools. However, unlike years past, there is no penalty if a student below the high school level does not take the exam. Schools still want kids to come in to take the test so they can get the much needed data.
“That data is critical for us. Obviously to learn and know where to go, what we have to start with, and we have to hit the ground running for next year," Brenda Chacon-Robles, chief academic officer for the Ysleta Independent School District, said.
EPISD and YISD were not able to provide the attendance numbers for STAAR testing. The Socorro Independent School District did have numbers to share with ABC 7. According to district data, 41 percent of 4th graders have taken the writing test; 34 percent of 7th graders have taken the writing test; and high school English I and II is above the 70 percent mark.
This year the testing spans over a six week period. In previous years, testing was done in just two weeks. The reason for a spaced out approach was to protect kids.
“The reason for the flexibility and extension is to give everybody, again time, right, to be able to space out your testing, or your choice of testing. Which days you want to test, which subjects, what grade levels, and it also gives you an opportunity to keep everybody safe based on the number of kids coming in each day,” Chacon-Robles said.