Many students will be taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests this week.
That's the annual test that measures if students meet state standards in terms of academics – and it has many educators in Brown County feeling pressured.
"It is important to show that we have met those state standards and just show that we're doing our job throughout the year. It's very reflective on our job," said Courtney Greene, a 4th grade teacher at Early Elementary School. "You're nervous for the kids. You're nervous to prepare them without making them nervous, and you want to relay how important it is to try their hardest."
"It is the state's way to assess how much the students are learning, and also it's kind of the way for the state to give each school a report card and to rank them among other schools in Texas," said Shannon Taylor, a 5th grade teacher at Early Elementary School.
The tests also determine whether not students, particularly those in 5th and 8th grades, can advance to the next grade level.
Taylor said she and her colleagues are making learning fun as they prepare students for the exams since there is no way to cram for it.
"We worked on this all year long,” Taylor said. “We've taught everything they need to know and we spent the last couple of days reviewing. It's called the STAAR test and so we have a Star Wars theme."
Students at Brownwood's East Elementary School have been training in STAAR bootcamp, where they take practice tests.
"We look at released tests from previous years," East Elementary School Principal Nanda Wilbourn said. "We try to make it as much like the real test as it's going to be, so from 8:15 to 10 they do reading and then from 10:15 to 12 they do math."
The important thing is to not stress.
"I think that there's a lot of accountability with the STAAR testing and with any state testing, but it's not the only piece to measure if children, teacher and schools are successful,” Wilbourn said. “It's one piece. It's a big piece, but it's one measuring tool.”
Taylor said it's also important for students to relax, get a good night's sleep and eat a good breakfast before they take the tests.
Brownwood ISD Assistant Superintendent Liesa Land said the return dates of testing scores vary based on subject and grade level, but teachers can expect them by May 21.
For more information, visit http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/