Tuesday, March 5, 2013

STAR Testing

STAR Testing

Does your school use STAR testing for monitoring? What are your thoughts on STAR? We’ve seen STAR be used well and not so well. Our entire district uses Renaissance AR and STAR, but different schools determine to what level they use it. Some of the schools place a lot of focus on AR, but they don’t focus on using the STAR test. What are they using to determine student levels? Some schools (or at least teachers in those schools) focus on both strongly.

I spent time student teaching in a local school that placed a large focus on AR school-wide. Administration asked that teachers test their students’ STAR levels once a month. The teacher I was placed with at the time would have her students test every two weeks. She used this, along with another program the school had purchased, for progress monitoring. She met with the students and talked with them about how their scores had changed. Seeing what these scores and how it affected them encouraged the students to focus on the tests more.

However, some schools focus on getting AR points and they use the STAR tests to place students in groups. These groupings aren’t always beneficial to the students though. For instance, one first grade student has the second highest amount of points in his class, has the best ratio of test passes to tests taken, and the highest percent of comprehension on his AR test. However, this same student scores continuously early kindergarten on STAR reading and early second grade on STAR math. In this particular case, what can be done to motivate this student? He strongly dislikes taking these tests. He finds them confusing (reading) and boring (math). This student is very strong in math and has qualified for Math Olympics at school both in kindergarten and first. In reading he has simply been placed in the lowest group. The student and teacher both agree that the books in his guided reading group are too easy for him, but the teacher continues to keep him in this group based on his STAR score. What else could be done? What other assessment could be used? Why is he scoring so low on STAR if he’s able to perform well in group?

Again, what do you think about STAR? Do you or a fellow teacher use it? If so, how does it take effect in your classroom?


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