4 Key Items IT Teams Can Do to Prepare for Texas’ Online STAAR Testing

This year, it’s official: all of Texas’ state-wide assessments are moving online. The tech-focused initiative was passed by House Bill 3906 by the 86th Texas Legislature in 2019. This is the first full school year to undergo the new assessment redesign, which includes new types of test questions, comprehensive reading passages, and more evidence-based writing. 

But that’s not all—the state summative assessment redesign also included new funding for Texas schools as they fulfill new tech needs.

As a K-12 IT leader, you may not need to know about the cross-curricular reading passages in the tests, but there are things you can do to support teachers and students during the STAAR test season. Take a look at some of the tips below so that your district starts testing season off on the right foot.

1. Make sure your district has appropriate bandwidth

This should be the main focus for your IT team—after all, the test can only be taken online now, so stable internet connection is key. 

According to the Texas Education Agency, the minimum network speed during testing should be at least 500 kilobits per second per concurrent student tester. The Consortium for School Network goes a bit further, actually, recommending districts to run 1 megabit per second per student. Your district’s bandwidth should keep those factors in mind when preparing for STAAR testing.

2. Specify which hardware devices are being used

The Texas Education Agency suggests a 3:1 ratio between students and devices, but that number can vary, depending on your specific district. Since the pandemic, 1:1 device initiatives have swept the country, and it’s possible that your particular Texas district already has that in place. However, if your district isn’t currently set up for 3:1, you’ll need to prepare additional devices during state-wide testing.

3. Establish a secure browser

There are various reasons why districts should use a secure browser on district devices. Texas districts need secure browsers to do everything from safeguarding students to decreasing the chances of cheating, so K-12 IT teams can visit this page to see what browsers work with each district’s specific system.

4. Make sure you’re prepared for student accommodations

Since STAAR assessments are online, that changes the way many students prepare and handle taking the test. Thankfully, HB 3261 accounted for those students by offering accommodations. 

If a student is unable to understand a complex word, new accommodations are available so that the student can click on a word and receive short animations to help them work out the word’s definition. For IT leaders, it’s important to make sure enough bandwidth is available so that students can access those additional animations.

STAAR online assessments will also feature text-to-speech, so having functional speakers is critical for this accommodation. Students can also use speech-to-text to answer test responses, so IT teams may need to explain to staff how to use speakers effectively to ensure student success for that accommodation.

Use Incident IQ to Work Efficiently During Test Season

State-wide testing is a huge initiative for everyone in the district. K-12 IT teams need an effective tool that improves visibility into technical issues and workflows across the entire district.

Incident IQ was built for that—literally. Incident IQ’s asset management, help ticketing, and facilities workflow tools were designed for the needs of K-12. Whether a student needs to submit a help ticket for a broken keyboard or a teacher needs to request additional speakers for their classroom, Incident IQ streamlines the support process. Reach out to us to set up a demo today and see how much your district workflows can improve by test time.

Click to learn how we support teaching and learning in Texas K-12 school districts.

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