The Alliance cares about producing real results for students and with the introduction of the new STAAR test, the issue of scheduling has come to the our attention. Many campuses have reported that during the benchmark testing, or STAAR simulations, teachers are being denied duty-free lunch and/or planning/prep periods on the day of the tests as well as when other grade levels are testing. Entire campuses are being affected by testing for up to four consecutive days.
The Alliance team discussed testing schedules with the administration during the February Consultation meeting. The administration team agreed that schedules for testing CAN and SHOULD provide for the mandatory duty-free lunch period and planning and prep time for all teachers (DL Legal). We discussed schedules that can be developed so that all teachers get their planning and prep period. Individual campus schedules are dependent upon many factors including school size and special populations. Leslie Stephens, the SAISD Director of Testing, agreed to disseminate sample schedules that meet these guidelines to STAAR coordinators. If campus schedules do not provide for a planning/prep period on the actual day(s) of testing, the campus schedule should include the make up times for any missed planning/prep period. Furthermore, the district is recommending that if a schedule breaks up the testing period into two-hour testing blocks, then lunch periods should be 45 minutes long to allow for lunch and restroom breaks for students.
The Alliance team asked whether non-campus-based personnel will be providing support to campuses. Ms. Stephens said campuses send in those requests to Phyllis Tondre in Ms. Burks’ office and they are filled as possible. She noted that some campuses also use campus funding to hire retired teachers and certified subs, both of which are allowable by TEA.
Please review your campus testing schedules to make sure that all teachers are provided with 450 minutes of planning and prep every two weeks, including testing weeks and their 30-minute duty-free lunch daily. If your campus coordinator is having a difficult time creating a campus schedule, they can contact the testing department or the appropriate LED who will help provide support especially if they need non-campus based personnel to help. The administration also asked that the Alliance notify the LEDs about any campuses that are having a challenge with scheduling the planning/prep period and the duty-free lunch so that the LEDs can provide support. Together, we can create a testing environment that produces real results for all our students.