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Why are the Texas STAAR tests different this year?

Some big changes are coming to the annual academic readiness exam.

TEXAS, USA — The test prep for STAAR has already started in some schools.

While those words may make you think of No. 2 pencils and rows of little bubbles to fill in that’s not what it’s going to look like this year. This spring, the STAAR tests will all be online, and that has some teachers stressed.

That’s because they will not only have to prepare kids for the content on the test but also how to navigate the software. While even elementary school kids are familiar with phones and tablets, those skills don’t necessarily translate to computers. So now teachers are having to explain drop-down menus and how to drag and drop to third-graders.

There are concerns about more than just computer literacy, there are questions about whether the tech will actually work.

According to Houston Public Media, two years ago, an optional online version of the STAAR test crashed. The Texas Education Agency says there is a new vendor this year and extensive testing has already been done to make sure it won’t crash when thousands of kids all log on.

The tech isn’t the only thing changing, so is the content. Now multiple-choice questions will be no more than 75% of the test. The new emphasis is on writing now all grade levels will see writing questions, often across subject matter. The idea is for students to show their work more and to demonstrate they understand the subject matter.

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