HISD Schools Add Some Pep to STAAR Prep

HISD schools across the district are doing their part to get students prepared and pumped up for the upcoming STAAR exam. At Neff Elementary, Principal Rupak Gandhi and his teachers have been practicing their dance moves for an upcoming STAAR pep rally that they hope will encourage students to do their best. Over the past few weeks, members of the school’s fine arts team have spent their ancillary periods and after-school hours creating a fun “Gangnam Style” video that they will show at the campus rally on Monday, April 22, 2013. Students in grades three through eight will take STAAR April 23–26.

“We wanted to do something fun that would not only motivate our students to do well, but would involve the entire staff,” said Gandhi. In the video, entitled “Neff STAAR Style,” Gandhi breaks out his best dance moves and so do the school’s custodians, food services workers, and students.

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Neff isn’t the only school getting creative to prepare students for STAAR. Sharpstown High School has been holding the ‘All-STAAR TAKS-athon’—a game-show-style competition between all math classes on campus. This year, freshmen and sophomores are required to take the new STAAR end-of-course (EOC) exams while juniors and seniors still take the TAKS.

“The main goal is to get everyone pumped and excited about preparing and studying,” said Bridgette King, Apollo Math Fellow coordinator at Sharpstown, who noted that all questions given during the competition are very similar to what students can expect during their actual exams.

“It’s really exciting to compete against the other classes,” said Sharpstown freshman Osbin Barrios. “The music and the timer made me nervous, but that’s why I worked hard in class and came to tutorials to make sure I could respond quickly.”

As an additional incentive, the top three classes were awarded prizes such as field trips, pizza, movies, and T-shirts. The competition also challenged students to practice good time management, as they were given only two to four minutes to answer each question. During the STAAR EOC, students will only have four hours to answer an average of 50 to 60 questions.

“It’s a lot more fun to prepare this way than just sitting in class and working on assignments,” said Daisy Gomez. “This really motivates us more.”