This story originally appeared on Texas Public Radio.
There will be some changes for thousands of Texas public school children as they settle in this week to take the state’s standardized STAAR tests.
Now, the exams given in grades three through eight will have to be completed within specific amounts of time.
The Texas Education Agency’s DeEtta Culbertson says previously testing on a single subject sometimes lasted a full day or two. Parent groups told state lawmakers last year that placed too much stress on children and their teachers. The legislature passed House Bill 743 in response.
“I think they were hearing a lot about test stress and an overabundance of prep work, and so this was I believe one way they were trying to alleviate some of that,” Culbertson says.
The writing test given to fourth and seventh graders will now have to be completed within four hours. Next school year other tests given will have to be completed in a maximum two or three hours.
Another change this year: the number of questions students must answer correctly to pass is going up. Culbertson says the state placed a hold on higher testing standards while school districts became familiar with the STAAR exam. Now, the tougher grading is being phased in.