NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Tonight, children in certain grades of Texas public schools know in the morning they'll be taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR.
"Improvement-required" campuses have a lot at stake, so Nacogdoches ISD attempted this morning to relieve the pressure on students.
It helps when facing a big task to receive encouragement from your peers.
Fifth graders from the Brooks Quinn Jones, Carpenter and Fredonia elementary campuses were given a STAAR pep rally Monday. McMichael Middle School eighth graders were the hosts. Those students, too, are facing STAAR.
"Things like this that will calm them down and say, 'We worked hard,' said Sami Kinsey, Nacogdoches ISD's assistant superintendent of curriculum and education. "It's like sports football. Go out and do your best."
STAAR is not a football game, but it's treated as such. Lots of coaching. Lots of practice and lots of confidence building.
"It gets them ready and energetic for this four-hour test," said one eighth grader.
It's a test that determines if fifth- and eighth-graders statewide can advance to the next grade.
"I think they'll make 100 percent and pass," said Gwenevere Condit, a fifth grader at Fredonia Elementary.
It also determines whether high school seniors can graduate.
Overall scores determine campus accountability ratings, which are released in August.
The stakes are high at improvement-required schools like the Fredonia and Carpenter elementary campuses. Academic improvement releases the schools from Texas Education Agency scrutiny. Takeovers and even closures can be avoided.
"That's our goal as a campus," said Melinda Wiebold, Fredonia Elementary's principal. "That's our goal for teachers, but the ultimate goal is really for our kids to continue to grow."
Academic growth requires effort from students, faculty, staff, and parents to place students over the top.
"Take that STAAR test and knock it out of the ballpark," a McMichael staff member said to the students.
Educators advise parents to make sure their children receive a good dinner, a good night's sleep, and a good breakfast. The day should be started with a positive frame of mind. And don't be late.