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Tips for STAAR Testing

What is STAAR testing?

STAAR stands for State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, which is the state’s student testing program. The assessments are based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), which are the state curriculum standards. Beginning in grade 3 through high school graduation, students will be tested in the core subject areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies.

What is the purpose behind STAAR or the standardized testing of my child?

According to the Texas Education Agency, “STAAR tests show whether a student has mastered specific knowledge of a core subject at a certain grade level. Test results should provide parents assurance that their child is prepared to enter the next grade level within their school district or any Texas district. Finally, the results provide educators and administrators with uniform information about where to focus resources – especially in the core subjects being taught.”

How many STAAR tests are there each year in elementary and middle school?

  • Pre-K – 2nd: None
  • 3rd: Mathematics, Reading
  • 4th: Mathematics, Reading, Writing
  • 5th: Mathematics, Reading, Science

When will STAAR testing take place at Brentwood?

  • Tuesday, April 9: 5th Grade Math and 4th Grade Writing
  • Wednesday, April 10: 5th Grade Math and 4th Grade Writing Make-Ups
  • Thursday & Friday, April 11 -12: 5th Grade Math & Reading and 4th Grade Writing Make-Ups
  • Monday, May 13:  3rd Grade Math, 4th Grade Math, and 5th Grade Math Retest
  • Tuesday, May 14:  3rd Grade Reading, 4th Grade Reading, and 5th Grade Reading Retest
  • Wednesday, May 15:  5th Grade Science and 3rd & 4th Grade Reading and Math Make-Ups
  • Thursday, May 16: 3rd & 4th Grade Reading and Math and 5th Grade Science Make-Ups

What should families need to know about testing days?

Brentwood will not be providing snacks for students during STAAR testing this year due to food allergies and dietary restrictions among students.  Please send a healthy, non-messy snack with your child on testing days.

We do our best to provide a thriving learning environment for all of our students.  We model and teach our social, emotional, learning strategies throughout the year and encourage our students to use them.  We want all of our students to feel successful and promote our motto, “Where we always do our personal best!” during testing season.

There are various adjustments to schedules during these days, including Encore, recess, and lunch times.  Please check with your child’s teacher for specific information. We are thankful to have Brentwood Park next to us so our non-testing grades have a place to play during testing days. We practice sharing and respect when we go to the park and play with non-Brentwood kids.

On testing days students take assessments throughout the building. We are required to maintain testing security throughout the building on these days. On all testing days the campus will be closed to all visitors, mentors, and families.  If you stop by campus you will be able to visit the office only.  We appreciate your understanding of this campus closure during these days.

What should families do?

If possible, please refrain from scheduling appointments or checking students out in the morning on testing days.

Also, please share the following tips with your children:

  1. Have a Positive Attitude – Approach the big test as you’d approach a giant jigsaw puzzle. It might be tough, but you can do it! A positive attitude goes a long way toward success.
  2. The Night Before – The night before the test you should get to bed early. Remember, you brain and body need sleep to function well, so don’t stay up late!
  3. The Morning of the Test – Did you know that you think better when you have a full stomach? So eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast in the morning. Brentwood cafe will be open for breakfast from 7:05-7:30 each morning if families wish to purchase breakfast at the school. Get to school early so you aren’t rushing, and get you brain turned on, and tuned up.
  4. I’m Stuck – Those tricky problems can knock you off balance. Don’t get worried or frustrated. Reread the question to make sure you understand it, and then try to solve it the best way you know how. If you’re still stuck, circle it and move on. You can come back to it late. What if you have no idea about the answer? Review your options, and make the best guess you can.
  5. Multiple-Choice Questions – The process of elimination can help you choose the correct answer in a multiple-choice question. Start by crossing off the answers that couldn’t be right. Then spend your time focusing on the possible correct choices before selecting your answer.
  6. Neatness Counts – Be sure that your writing is legible and that you erase your mistakes. For machine-scored tests, fill in the spaces carefully.
  7. I’m Done – Not so fast! When you complete the last item on the test, remember that you’re not done yet. First, check the clock and go back to review your answers, making sure you didn’t make any careless mistakes (such as putting the right answer in the wrong place, or skipping a question).
2019-04-30T00:39:14-05:00March 31st, 2019|The Bulldog Bark|

January 27, 2019 Edition


Jan 27, 2019 Edition

Hi Brentwood Families!

Two Brentwood Custodians will retire this week – Gladys with 41 years in Austin ISD and Dee with 25 years. Help us send them off with love. On Monday, please send your kiddos in the custodians’ two favorite colors, yellow and purple.

Also – if your house is as noisy as mine, you might feel like nobody ever hears you. Here’s your chance to be heard. The Austin ISD 2019 Family Survey is open through Mar 8.  Help the district prep our students for academic success by sharing your opinions in this confidential survey. Results will be used by campus principals, district administrators, and the Board of Trustees, and will be available on the AISD website by the end of June.

And that’s not all…

What’s Up This Week?


Science Fair Awards Assembly (PreK – Grade 2): The awards assembly for all PreK-2nd Science Fair participants will be held in the gym on Monday, January 28th at 7:40am. Good going, junior scientists!

American Heart Association Kids Heart Challenge Kickoff: Remember Jump Rope for Heart? It’s now called Kids Heart Challenge and it kicks off in the Gym this week during ENCORE classes. Get ready to show your kiddos those Double Dutch skills you’ve been hiding.

Kinder Field Trip: The Very Hungry Caterpillar: On Monday, some of Brentwood’s littlest Bulldogs will get to see four of Eric Carle’s classic stories delivered by a menagerie of 75 charming puppets at the Paramount. Yes. I’m a little jealous. Learn more  →


Science Fair Awards Assembly (Grades 3-5):  The awards assembly for all 3rd-5th grade participants will be held in the gym at 7:40am. Good going, junior scientists!

Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age:  This award-winning film probes the vulnerable corners of family life and depicts messy struggles over social media, video games, and academics. It offers solutions on how we can help our kids navigate the digital world. Austin ISD is offering two FREE community screenings:

  • At Lanier HS on Tue, Jan 29th at 6pm
  • At Akins HS on Thu, Feb 7th at 6pm

View the trailer →

Reverse Evacuation Drill: Student safety continues to be a campus priority. Safety drills are exercises that Austin ISD uses as teaching moments, to prepare students and staff for how to respond appropriately to emergencies. A variety of drills are required each school year, and Tuesday’s is one of them.

WED, JAN 30 – FRI, FEB 1

Benchmark Assessments: Students in grades 3-5 will get the chance to ‘sharpen their pencils’ this week with district-wide benchmark assessments:

  • Wed, Jan 30 – 5th Grade Reading
  • Thu, Jan 31 – 3rd and 4th Grade Reading
  • Fri, Feb 1 – 5th Grade Science

Being prepared can pay off.→


Spring Gifted & Talented Nomination Window (K, 1st, 2nd): Brentwood Elementary’s Gifted and Talented (GT) program is designed to move students with high ability at a pace appropriate to their rate of learning through studies that go beyond the age-level or grade-level expectations. The nomination window for Kinder, Grade 1, and Grade 2 is open now. Learn more about the Gifted & Talented Program at Brentwood →


2019-04-30T14:33:45-05:00January 27th, 2019|The Bulldog Bark|

Principal’s Writing Challenge #2

All students and families are encouraged to accept Principal Laroche’s second Writing Challenge for this school year. The challenge objective is for students to practice expository writing, which simply means that you are writing to explain what you think and why you think it. Expository writing explains, describes, and informs.

Expository writing typically follows the following format –

  • Introduction with main topic that answers the prompt.
  • #1 supporting reason or example.
  • #2 supporting reason or example.
  • #3 supporting reason or example.
  • Conclusion that restates the main topic, revisits key details, and tells the lesson learned.

The best writing is the result of editing and revising before publishing your final piece. Principal Writing Challenge final drafts are due to Principal Lacroche by email ( or paper by Friday, March 8th. Include student name, grade, and teacher name. Families are encouraged to support and participate with their child in my challenge.

All writing challenge entries will be celebrated at The Principal’s Writing Challenge Bulldog Share, in the library, Thursday, March 14th from 7:30-8:00 am. All participants will receive a special writer’s tool!

Principal’s Writing Challenge Prompt:

Think about the Brentwood Lifeskills and how you use them personally in your life. Write about a lifeskill that is important to you.  Describe how this lifeskill is important or how you use the lifeskill in your life. Where do you use it –  At home?  At school?  With friends?

2019-04-30T00:39:14-05:00January 26th, 2019|Principal's Writing Challenge, The Bulldog Bark|

The Bulldog Bark: Jan 20, 2019

January 20, 2019 Edition

Hi Brentwood Families!

Hope this week’s newsletter finds you well! Did you notice that our little weekly publication has had a slight style refresh?

Last week, you may have seen a letter with updates about Multilingual Education at Brentwood in your students’ folder. If you missed it, we’ve got a copy for you.

What’s Up This Week?

School Closed for Martin Luther King, Jr Day

MON, JAN 21 

Mark your calendar for the upcoming student & staff holiday.

Brentwood Science Fair

THU, JAN 24 & FRI, JAN 25

Psst, parents:  Nearly 150 students have already expressed interest, Ms Joliffe urgently needs volunteers. Here’s what you can do:

  • Wed, Jan. 23: Help set up and label tables. (4 OPEN SLOTS!)
  • Thu, Jan. 24: Welcome students and help them arrange their projects on the proper tables. (7 OPEN SLOTS!)
  • Fri, Jan. 25: Help put away tables. (4 OPEN SLOTS!)

Sign up here to volunteer or check the latest event details →

Spring Gifted & Talented Nomination Window (K, 1st, 2nd)

MON, JAN 14 – FRI, FEB 1

Brentwood Elementary’s Gifted and Talented (GT) program is designed to move students with high ability at a pace appropriate to their rate of learning through studies that go beyond the age-level or grade-level expectations. The nomination window for Kinder, Grade 1, and Grade 2 is open now.

Learn more about the Gifted & Talented Program at Brentwood →

See the full newsletter

2019-04-30T00:57:10-05:00January 20th, 2019|The Bulldog Bark|

The Bulldog Bark: Jan 13, 2019 Edition

January 13, 2019 Edition

What’s Up This Week?

Spring Gifted & Talented Info Session

MON, JAN 14  •  5:30pm  •  Brentwood Library

Learn more about the Brentwood Elementary Gifted and Talented (GT) program.REMINDER: the Spring nomination window is for Kinder, 1 and 2 ONLY and runs from Jan 14 – Feb 1, 2019.

Spelling Bee

THU, JAN 17  •  Event Details Distributed to Registered Spellers

What’s more amazing than a talking dog? A Spelling Bee! Spellers benefit from enhanced vocabularies, strengthened grammar skills, increased confidence, experience with public speaking, and the fun of the competition. Oh yeah, and prizes. It’s not too late to sign up; Just email

Austin ISD 2019 Family Survey Open Now

Help the district prep our students for academic success by sharing your opinions in this confidential survey. Results will be used by campus principals, district administrators, and the Board of Trustees, and will be available on the AISD website by the end of June.

See the full newsletter →

2019-04-30T00:39:14-05:00January 13th, 2019|The Bulldog Bark|

The Bulldog Bark: Jan 6, 2019 Edition

January 6, 2019 Edition

Brentwood Families,

Hope your howlidays were awesome! If your family is like mine, you might be going a little mutts by now. But have no fear; school starts tomorrow, and your friendly puparazzi is back to shed some light on the info you need to prevent a ruff start.

What’s Up This Week?

Chime in on Policy at the Campus Advisory Council (CAC)

TUE, JAN 8  •  5:30pm  •  Brentwood Library
The CAC is a group of parents, administrators, and teachers, who meet monthly to advise Principal Laroche on policy decisions that impact our school. If you have any questions, concerns, or helpful feedback, please come to the meeting. The first part is reserved for “citizen communication.”
Check the agenda →

Winter Reading Log Due

FRI, JAN 11  •  Your Classroom
Happy New Year from the Brentwood Library! We hope your winter break was full of fun, family, relaxation, and (of course) reading! Students that kept track of their reading with the Winter Reading Log sent home before the break need to turn them into their classroom teacher by this Fri, Jan 11 to earn prizes that may include a pencil, a bookmark, or even a gift certificate to the Used Book Fair (Yes, fur’real!)

See the full newsletter →

2019-04-30T00:39:14-05:00January 6th, 2019|The Bulldog Bark|

The Bulldog Bark: Dec 16, 2018

December 16, 2018 Edition

Brentwood Families,

We’ve almost made it to the half-way mark! WOO HOO! You can DO THIS!

To close the year out strong, here are a couple of reminders from Principal LaRoche:

  • Let’s tighten up our act when it comes to safety and traffic flow during arrival and dismissal. There are guidelines that we might have forgotten. They’re detailed in this handy document, but here are the two biggies:
    • No dropping off on Arroyo Seco.
    • No left turns from Yates.
  • Attending a holiday party at the school? We hope you can! Remember to:
    • Arrive a few minutes early to check in at the office.
    • If you’re not yet in the system, bring a photo ID to get your badge.

We hope everyone has a wonderful winter break full of relaxation and time with loved ones. Students resume school on Mon, Jan 7, 2019.

See the full newsletter >

2019-04-30T00:39:14-05:00December 16th, 2018|The Bulldog Bark|

Resources for Middle School Planning – 2019-2020

We’ve received lots of information across the past several months about secondary schools within AISD. In an effort to make it less overwhelming, we’ve compiled it all into this post.

Related Events

  • The Evening of Wonder: Fulmore Open House

    Visit Fulmore Middle School on Tue, Jan 15th, 2019 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. for a wonderful and interactive evening. Tour our campus, view exhibits, listen to performances and meet our teachers, students, and families!  The deadline to apply for the Fulmore Magnet program is Fri, Feb 1st.


2019-04-30T00:39:14-05:00December 16th, 2018|The Bulldog Bark|

Everything You Need to Know about the Science Fair

The Annual Science Fair returns to Brentwood on Thu, Jan 24. Nearly 150 students have already expressed interest in this year’s Science Fair!

Here’s what you need to know:

  • It’s not too late to sign up. To sign up, your child should return the blue “I’m interested” sheet (don’t worry, we’ve got a copy for you here!) you received in your Wednesday folder. A couple of days later, you’ll receive a white packet with detailed information of expectations, rules and procedures. So basically, it’s not too late to sign up! You can visit the beautiful Central Public Library and/or browse great Science Fair websites for ideas. Projects can be done individually or in teams of 2 or 3. To volunteer, contact Pam Johns at
  • The rules matter. A lot. Pay close attention to the list of often-overlooked rules that, when ignored, can result in confused tears on the big day. Projects don’t make it through the gym door if they contain display items even as seemingly innocuous as water, plants, dirt, gravel, rocks, sand, etc. Photographs on a display board of these items are a fabulous alternative.
  • About 18 non-parent judges have volunteered. We need about 6 more. Judges, sadly, cannot be parents of Brentwood Bulldogs. People with a science/ math /engineering background would be dreamy, but truly, anyone who ever took a science class in high school and harbors a caring heart and deep desire to encourage the future scientists of America would also make an excellent science fair judge. Judges must be able to be at Brentwood for judging on Fri. Jan 25 from 7:30am to 1:00pm.  Tell prospective judges to contact Mary Travnick Romansky at

Parent Volunteers Needed!

Because so many students have already expressed interest, Ms Joliffe urgently needs parent volunteers. Here’s what you can do:

  • Wed, Jan. 23: From 3:15p-4:15p, help set up and label tables in the gym – and possibly overflow in the hallways or library.
  • Thu, Jan. 24: From 7:15a-8:30a, help students arrange their projects on the proper tables.
  • Fri, Jan. 25: From 3:15p-4:15p, help put away tables.

Sign up here

P.S. Though we’d love to know for sure that we’ve got it covered, parent volunteers can just show up and help, even if they haven’t committed. No sign up? No worries. Just appear and ask how you can help! 

Detailed Event Timeline

Wed, Jan 23: 

  • Parent volunteers help set up tables in the gym after school from 3:15-4:15

Thur, Jan 24: 

  • Parent volunteers welcome to help students with projects from 7:15-8:30
  • PreK & K students bring projects directly to the gym upon arrival
  • 1st -5th will get called from their classrooms in waves from 7:45-8:30
  • Classes will view the Science Fair from 10am – 2:30 pm
  • Families welcome to view the Science Fair from 3 – 6 pm

Fri, Jan 25:

  • Gym is closed while judges talk with students from 8 – 12 noon
  • Results are tallied and announced over the PA by the end of school
  • Invitations sent home to families of 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winners to a small reception in the library the following week
  • All projects must go home by the end of the day
  • Parent volunteers help put away tables after school from 3:15-4:15

Mon, Jan 28:

  • Ribbon ceremony during Monday Assembly for PreK-2nd in the gym for all participants
  • Small reception in the library for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winners in PreK – 2nd grade.

Tues, Jan 29:

  • Ribbon ceremony during special Tuesday Assembly for 3rd – 5th in the cafe for all participants
  • Small reception in the library for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winners in 3rd – 5th grade.
2019-04-30T00:39:14-05:00December 16th, 2018|The Bulldog Bark|

The Bulldog Bark: Dec 9, 2018

December 9, 2018 Edition

Brentwood Families,

Though the hustle and bustle of the holidays is in full swing, the school calendar is beginning to calm down. The upcoming winter break gives us a chance to reflect on everything that’s happened in this busy first semester and to think about goals for the new year.

One goal we have for the Bark is to make it as easy as possible for parents to keep up with what’s going on at Brentwood. For next year, we’re contemplating a back-to-school edition with tips & advice from experienced Brentwood families to new ones, full of the things they wish they’d known when they were new to Brentwood.

Can you help us out by sharing your own answer?

  • What do you wish you’d known when student started at Brentwood?
  • What info did you miss that would have made things easier or better for your kiddo?
  • What ah-ha moments did you have that helped you?
  • What advice would you have for families as they start at Brentwood for the first time? 

You can respond directly to this email or write to with your answer. Thanks in advance!

See the full newsletter >


2019-04-30T00:39:15-05:00December 9th, 2018|The Bulldog Bark|