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STAAR scores for Texas students finally came out on July 5th. For 4th grade writing, it literally took 13 weeks. The other tests took forever, too. We took the tests in early May and got results in July??? Really. For reference, it took longer to get STAAR results than it takes to get SAT scores and about the same amount of time as it takes to get bar exam results back. That’s not the purpose of this post, though. I thought I’d make some fun graphs to show the growth, or lack there of, from last year to this year across the state of Texas.
Here are the scores students need to pass the tests. In my book, passing is a 70 or above. On STAAR, you only need to get in the 40s and 50s to pass. Most of the passing rates went up by one question, except science. Science stayed the same. The writing test was also cut in half this year compared to last, but the percentage needed to pass still went up a wee bit.
So, now we look at whether or not students did better. The passing rates went up slightly, so that makes it a little difficult to compare. It would be helpful to know the average score on each test. I couldn’t find that data. Here’s how many Texas students passed the tests.
- Minimal growth at the elementary level between 2015 and 2016. There were just as many downs as there were ups. None of them very significant, but it is hard to compare considering that kids had to get one more question right to pass this year. Plus we have a new publisher running the tests. Lots of variables in play! You can read the press release from TEA here. I wish I could find averages. I’d love to see those!
- I’m guessing there is more test prep happening now that publishing companies have had a chance to produce materials. Necessary, but certainly not my favorite part of the year. For me, it seems to last from January until May. And our low SES students get even more of it than our high SES kiddos. Scores will probably continue to rise slowly because of this. Plus, teachers can see the released tests now and make sure we are using the question stems.
- I wonder why they didn’t raise the passing rate for science? They did for all the other elementary tests. And they said they were going to raise it. Hmm…
Want to see the data directly from TEA–
- Passing Rates–These are the raw score conversion tables that show what students have to make to be considered as passing STAAR.
- Percent of Students Passing–How many Texas kids passed the test? Check out the Statewide Summary Reports for more info.
- I checked and double checked my numbers. If you notice an error, please email me so I can fix it. Passing rates were figured by dividing the number of questions needed to pass by the total number of questions and rounding.
In my book, I’ll give the STAAR test a 48% and I guess that’s passing, right?
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.
–The Pensive Sloth
Where did 2015 go? Seriously. While I try to figure that out…here’s some NEW teacher new year’s resolutions to make you giggle. If you want to see the top 10 from 2015, click HERE.
Spiral review. When I think about spiraling through skills, math is the first thing that comes to mind. But daily review isn’t just for math, it can also be very powerful for science! Students need repetition and multiple opportunities to engage with content and vocabulary if we want them to hold onto the concepts we are teaching. Here’s an idea for adding a little spiral review to your science routine.
- Give students a copy of this recording sheet. It’s free to download, just click here. There are 5 spaces, one for each day of the week.
- Display a photo of matter. This can be anything! Just do a Google search and show a photo of salt, copper pennies, an iron nail, a helium balloon, a wood popsicle stick, a plastic fork, etc.
- Let students talk with a partner and fill out the chart for that type of matter, discussing magnetism, physical state, relative density, solubility, and conductivity.
- Finally, share and discuss as a class, having students make corrections on their chart.
If you don’t want to make copies, you can just make an anchor chart with the questions and have students create the chart on a sheet of notebook paper or in their notebooks. My suggestion is to have them do this in their science notebooks for 2 weeks straight. Then, once a week for a while. I think if you did this every day, all year long, it would get old really fast! Something like this–
Go forth and teach science!
–The Pensive Sloth
Here comes a shameless plug…If you are interested in a version of this that includes 30 slides of different “matter,” a teacher answer key, and several recording sheet options, you’re in luck! I’ve got one at TPT and you can find it HERE. There’s also a challenge question on each slide to get students thinking, and a version of slides as task cards so you can put it in a science station.
Funko Pops. They’ve been the thorn in my side for several months now. When we went on vacation this summer, a few came back with us. When I arrive home after a long day of teaching, there’s often a Pops-sized box on the porch from Amazon or some other online retailer. I literally can’t escape them because they’ve become my husband’s obsession. Usually these little guys stay in his office. It’s one of those unwritten house rules, but when my husband looked less than enthusiastic about putting up the tree this year, I got an idea and decided to make use of the little devils.
The first challenge was finding a way to hang them on the tree without *damaging* them (Mr. Pensive Sloth insisted upon this). Luckily we had some pipe cleaners around. I tried wrapping the wire around their scrawny necks, but they just fell over. The same thing happened when I wrapped it around their torsos. The little buggers are so top heavy, that everywhere I tried to hang them from just resulted in a Pop facing down. I thought I was onto something when I decided we’d just hang them all up by their tiny feet and have upside down Pops all over the tree. I was quite fond of this idea, but it was quickly vetoed.
I’d almost given up when I figured it out. Cue 90s pop song…”This is how we do it…” Here are the steps from the photograph (below):
- Gather a Pop and a pipe cleaner. We had white and they matched our tree, but if your tree is green, consider green pipe cleaners so they blend in.
- Fold the pipe cleaner in half and put it around the neck with the open part in the back.
- Twist the two ends together close to the neck.
- Bring the sides up around the head of the Pop, near where the ears would be.
- Twist the two ends very tightly together at the top so they don’t slide back and forth.
- Hang on the tree! There is usually enough left to twist around a branch, but if there isn’t you can make a hook out of a small piece of pipe cleaner and attach this to the one around the head.
NOTE: This doesn’t work for all Pops. Some heads are bigger than others, some have decorations on their already enormous heads that prevent a pipe cleaner from going around easily, etc. On a few of the big ones, I did the same thing after twisting two pipe cleaners together. You just have to be creative if you really want it on the tree. Or give up and choose a different Pop. We did that too sometimes. As you can see, we also have a fake Christmas tree, so the branches are pretty strong and can be bent around to support the pops. Some of these little guys are crazy heavy for their size, so if you’ve got a real tree, test a few out first.
Overall it was a lot of fun! We got into a rhythm where I added the pipe cleaners and my husband carefully placed each Pop on the tree. He enjoyed making sure the characters stayed with their bonded Pop families. Here’s the final product!
If you’ve got children or a husband with a wild collection of small objects (Pops, superheroes, dolls, toy cars, Beanie Boos, etc.), why not turn it into something fun and make a themed Christmas tree? Share your ideas and experiences below.
Now, you may be wondering how this is related to teaching. It’s not, but was so much fun that I had to share! Of course if you have a bunch of Pops around and want to do this in your classroom, I’m sure your kiddos would love it (make sure to use school-friendly Pops!). I did get an idea that I plan to have the kiddos start on next week. A favorite character theme Christmas tree. More info on that coming soon!
–The Pensive Sloth