RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — This year will be the first official STAAR testing since the pandemic broke in 2020.

The Chief Academic Officer for PSJA ISD Dr. Rolando Treviño said even after two years of covid, he’s not the slightest bit concerned as teachers have been working tirelessly all year long to prepare students for this exam.

Due to HB3906 allowing for a redesigned STAAR test to transition to online, the preparation looked different this year.

PSJA ISD students have been taking practice tests written and online, but Dr. Treviño said it’s mostly been online.

McAllen ISD Superintendent, Dr. J. A. Gonzalez told ValleyCentral his district’s students have still been practicing mainly through the written format, but he believes they’re still as ready as they can be.

Dr. Gonzalez claimed to be “old fashioned” as he prefers the written format to the online, but understands as technology evolves, the district must evolve as well.

Gonzalez also shared that STAAR testing was not available in 2020 due to the pandemic. Tests were taken in 2021, but he said those scores weren’t ranked.

In 2019, McAllen ISD ranked in the ‘A’ range with 93%. As for PSJA ISD, Dr. Treviño reported falling in the ‘B+’ range.

Both school districts believe they can knock it out of the park this year.

“Our students have been in class. They’re going through the formative process of being in the classroom. They’ve been participating in activities that will enhance and address their learning needs so we’re definitely optimistic that our students and our staff will be able to celebrate some much-improved test scores,” added Dr. Treviño.

To prepare PSJA ISD students even more, the district offered an additional 30 days of enrichment where students endured extensive acceleration, test preparation, and celebration.

Both districts said they have witnessed a high level of stress roam the hallways as STAAR testing nears. Aside from extensive test preparation, they have been celebrating their students and supporting them with extracurricular activities and counseling services.

McAllen ISD has been going over emotional intelligence with their students since the beginning of the school year in an effort to not only prepare them for the real world but for testing as well.

With EQ, students are taught how to regulate their emotions in a mature manner, how to cope with their feelings, and how to manage what’s going on in their lives.

McAllen ISD also offers a wide range of activities that Dr. Gonzalez said keeps their students’ brains and bodies healthy.

“We’re all that we can to provide children with opportunities to participate outside of the classroom. I think our extracurricular program is strong. Our fine arts program is strong. We do have E-sports so we do really well in that arena too, so we try to give students as many outlets as possible,” added Dr. Gonzalez.

Harlingen CISD has also reported a high-stress level during STAAR testing as well, but to combat that the district has provided test prep for their students to improve the feeling of the test anxiety.

HCISD is encouraging its students to get “good sleep and eat a good breakfast.”

The Director of Guidance and Counseling for HCISD, Sylvia Gamboa said the district also provides breathing exercises, positive self-talk, and visualization to their students.

For the STAAR testing schedule, click here.