DR. MARK PORTERIE — April means STAAR push and so much more

Published 12:28 am Saturday, April 6, 2024

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The month of April is a significant time for public schools in Texas.

It marks the beginning of the end of the school year, the start of various state-mandated testing and the onset of various end-of-year activities.

For students, teachers and administrators in PAISD, April is busy and stressful as we prepare for — and navigate through — this series of annual assessments and events that define the end of each academic year.

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One of the most important aspects of April for Texas public schools is the administration of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests.

These standardized tests are given to students in grades 3-12 and assess their knowledge and skills in subjects such as math, reading, writing, science and social studies.

The STAAR tests play a crucial role in evaluating students’ proficiency in key academic areas and are used to measure school and district performance as well. For many students, the STAAR tests can be a source of stress and anxiety, as they are high-stakes assessments that can impact promotion to the next grade level and graduation requirements.

Teachers work all year delivering curriculum that students need in order to be proficient, not just on the test, but also in real life. Unfortunately, we have to spend weeks, or even months, preparing students for these tests, with teachers focusing on test-taking strategies, reviewing key concepts and administering practice exams.

Beginning this Tuesday (April 9), students will be taking the actual STAAR tests, which can take several days, spread out over the next few weeks, to complete —depending on the grade level and subject.

In addition to the STAAR tests, April signifies the beginning of end-of-year activities such as final exams, awards ceremonies, prom and of course the highlight of the entire year, GRADUATION!!

For high school seniors, April is a particularly busy time as they prepare to transition to the next phase of their lives. They must juggle studying for their last set of high school finals, completing college applications, attending prom and preparing for a new level of independence.

As our MHS Principal Jeremy Small stated at the start of this school year, we expect all of our graduates to be ACEs: accepted into the college or trade school of their choice; certified in a CTE content area or trade or enlisted in one of the branches of our military units.

For underclassmen, April can be a time of reflection as they wrap up the school year and look forward to the summer break. PAISD will host end-of-year events such as academic awards ceremonies, talent shows, field days and other social gatherings to celebrate the achievements of staff and students and build school spirit.

These activities provide students with the opportunity to showcase their talents, bond with classmates and create lasting memories of their time in school.

April also marks the beginning of planning for next school year, as parents register returning students online using our Home Access Center (HAC), and administrators finalize class schedules, teacher assignments, and budget allocations.

PAISD held a very successful career fair on Wednesday/April 3. We welcomed many prospective employees.

We are also holding meetings with staff to discuss campus and department goals and priorities for the upcoming year, as well as gather feedback on areas for improvement.

This planning process is essential for ensuring a smooth transition between school years and maintaining a high level of academic rigor and student success.

Overall, the month of April is a critical time for schools across Texas as we navigate through the challenges of standardized testing and prepare for the end of the academic year.

For students, teachers and administrators, April is a time of hard work, dedication and celebration as we strive to achieve our academic goals and commemorate the highlights of each school year.

By successfully navigating through the various assessments and activities that the month of April brings, PAISD can lay the foundation for a successful end to the school year and set the stage for continued growth and achievement in the future.

Dr. Mark Porterie is superintendent of schools for the Port Arthur Independent School District. He can be reached at mporterie@paisd.org.