4 Hacks Teachers Use Planning for STAAR Online

Each year the STAAR tests are offered online as well as paper-based. STAAR online tests are identical to the print tests, however, the STAAR online tests have a variety of embedded supports to help eligible students access the content being tested. Here are 4 ways to prepare your students for taking the STAAR test online:

  • Print out a classroom poster
  • Turn the screen into scratch paper
  • Try out “test mode” on various apps
  • Practice using STAAR Interim Assessments

Print out a classroom poster

Before your students take the STAAR Test, print out a poster-size picture from the Educator Guide to Accessibility within the STAAR Program (like the image below) to make explicit connections to what the tool will look like and where to find it on the screen even when using paper-based instruction. 

It might sound like this:

”Guys, as you read, raise your hand to ask me about words or phrases that are you don’t understand. During STAAR online anytime you see a blue underlined word/phrase or an arrow button, be sure to click on it to see the helpful clues.”

“Students, right now we’re using our red pens to cross out options we know are not correct. During STAAR Online, you will find the eliminator tool at the top (teacher points to the X icon),”

or “Class, I want you to take your highlighters out and mark the key words. During STAAR Online, you will do the same thing by selecting the word with your mouse to make the highlight option show up.”

Turn the screen into scratch paper

A low tech option is to place a page protector or clear contact paper over students’ monitors, turning the screen into scratch paper. Students use the same math strategies as they do on paper but can generalize this skill into an online environment. Or, teachers are using Kami, a PDF & document annotation tool, so that students can show their work digitally just like on paper. Love it!

Try out “test mode” on various applications

To help students and teachers prepare for online assessments, products like Word Web Minimal and Desmos have developed “test mode”  editions for testing, exams and restricted safe environments. (Note: Some calculator applications may not comply with technology use guidelines because they compromise the standards being assessed, even when the application is in testing mode. Careful consideration should be given to the use of applications during testing so that the application itself is not a direct source of answers.)

Practice using STAAR Interim Assessments

Campuses and districts can decide to replace one of their district benchmark tests with the STAAR Interim Assessment. During the STAAR Interim Assessment students get to practice using the same supports they’ll see on STAAR and districts get to plan from the data they receive.

If you haven’t already, check out the STAAR Interim Assessments that are available and give your students time to practice taking the STAAR test online. They’ll have access to the same supports they’ll see during testing so they can become familiar with all the tools before test day.

Got any other great hacks you use to prepare your students for the online STAAR test? Share them with us in the comments below!

Nichole Kertis is a special education specialist working at the Education Service Center Region 13.

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