Waco: Students gear up for start of STAAR tests

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WACO, Texas Waco students are gearing up for the start of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR exams, next week, and both state and local school officials are addressing concerns about shorter time limits for the standardized test.

According to the Texas Education Agency, students will have the same amount of time as last year, however, the agency is hoping they can complete the exam in almost half the time allotted.

For example, students in third through fifth grade will have the normal four hours but the officials want to see them finish in two hours.

Sixth through eighth graders will have five hours to complete the exam but the agency wants to see them finish in three hours.

While the tests can be challenging already, Bruce Gietzen, director of communications for the WISD, said district officials don't want students to rush, they want them to get it right.

"A lot of kids have testing anxiety anyway and so we don't want to do anything that might increase the possibility of that. So we want them to be well prepared, in a comfortable situation. Get down and perform the test to the best of their ability because it's important."

The state wants harder data on how long it takes for students to finish the exam.

Officials want at least 85 percent of them to finish earlier.

Teachers have been preparing students for the test with drills and activities.

Experts said the best things parents can do to set their students up for success is a good night's rest, a healthy breakfast, and lots of encouragement.