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      Texas says 'bye-bye' to TAKS and 'hello' to STAAR

      On Monday, one class of third-graders was doing more than enjoying story time, they were preparing for the new statewide accountability exam they'll be taking this year.

      Texas is kicking out the TAKS test and replacing it with "STAAR".

      "The STAAR is definitely more rigorous. It is designed just like the name says for academic readiness. It is tied in with the college and career readiness standards so it is very much raising the bar", said District Specialist for Social Studies, Devia Cearlock.

      The "State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness" will be implemented this year for grades three through nine, with sophomores, juniors and seniors being phased in over the next couple of years.

      "Sophomores, juniors and seniors that were already taking TAKS are under the TAKS system so our high school is going to have two more years of phasing in STAAR and phasing out TAKS", added Cearlock.

      Not only will those tests be more challenging, they'll also be longer and timed. But, we're told high schoolers are going to be the ones who feel the changes the most.

      "The students will take EOC exams for each of the four core subjects all three years and each of those test s i n each of the categories has to be averaged together for them to be able to graduate , so every test counts for graduation", said Cearlock .

      Cearlock says change is hard but, when it's all said and done, students should actually be saying "thank you".

      "I think that they're going to be more prepared for college. We want every student to be well prepared for whatever choice they make and when they leave high school, they will have the skills necessary to do it", continued Cearlock.

      STAAR will focus on the same four areas as TAKS has in previous years: english, social studies, math and science. Actual passing standards for the new exams have not been set and won't be until after the first test is administered in February of 2012.

      For more information on the new testing system, check out this page on the Texas Education Agency's website.