What is STAAR?
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, will replace the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) program beginning in spring 2012. The STAAR program at grades 3–8 will assess the same grades and subjects as are assessed on TAKS. For high school, general subject-area TAKS tests will be replaced with twelve STAAR end-of-course (EOC) assessments.
Why is there a new assessment program for Texas students?
The Texas Education Agency (TEA), in collaboration with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and Texas educators, is developing a new assessment system in response to requirements set forth by the 80th and 81st Texas legislatures. This new system will focus on increasing postsecondary readiness of graduating high school students and helping to ensure that Texas students are competitive with other students both nationally and internationally.
In what grades, subjects and courses will students be assessed under the STAAR program?
At grades 3–8, students will be tested in mathematics and reading. Students will also be tested in writing at grades 4 and 7, science at grades 5 and 8, and social studies at grade 8. STAAR EOC assessments will be available for Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, biology, chemistry, physics, English I, English II, English III, world geography, world history, and U.S. history.
How will student performance be described on STAAR?
There will be two cut scores, which will identify three performance categories. For the general STAAR assessments, STAAR Modified, and STAAR L, the labels for the performance categories are
- Level III: Advanced Academic Performance
- Level II: Satisfactory Academic Performance
Level I: Unsatisfactory Academic Performance
For the STAAR Alternate assessments, the performance labels are
- Level III: Accomplished Academic Performance
- Level II: Satisfactory Academic Performance
- Level I: Unsatisfactory Academic Performance
What is the timeline for establishing student performance standards for the STAAR program?
The timeline for standard–setting activities will differ for STAAR 3–8 and STAAR EOC because of the timing of available assessment data and different legislative requirements. For STAAR EOC, operational assessment data are available from the spring 2011 administrations. Therefore, performance standards will be set in February 2012, prior to the spring administrations. However, operational assessment data for STAAR 3–8 will not be available until after the spring 2012 administrations; for this reason performance standards will be set in October 2012.
Legislation requires a system of performance standards that are linked from grade to grade starting with postsecondary-readiness performance standards down through grade 3. Therefore, STAAR EOC performance standards must be established before standards for STAAR 3–8 can be set. Additionally, districts must be provided with test scores on STAAR EOC assessments so that they can be used as 15% of the students' final course grades for the 2011–2012 school year.
What are the Student Success Initiative (SSI) requirements for the 2011–2012 school year?
Because there will be no performance standards in place for grades 3–8 in the 2011–2012 school year, students cannot be held subject to SSI for that year. Therefore, there are no SSI requirements for the 2011–2012 school year.
Will there be SSI retest opportunities for grades 5 and 8 reading and mathematics in the 2011–2012 school year?
SSI retest opportunities will not be offered in May or June of 2012 because performance standards for STAAR 3–8 will not be set until October 2012. For the 2011–2012 school year, districts will make promotion/retention decisions based on the same academic information (e.g., the recommendation of the student's teacher and the student's grade in the subject) used to make these decisions in non-SSI grades. As stated in TEC §28.021(a), "a student may be promoted only on the basis of academic achievement or demonstrated proficiency of the subject matter of the course or grade level."
What are the testing requirements for students in grades 3–8 who are receiving instruction in subjects above their enrolled grade?
These students will be required to take the STAAR assessment for the subject in which they are receiving instruction if the content covers the entire curriculum for that subject. For example, a student in grade 5 who is receiving instruction in grade 6 mathematics would take STAAR grade 5 reading and science but grade 6 mathematics if the advanced subject matter he or she is being taught covers all the TEKS required for grade 6 mathematics.
Students in grades 5 and 8 may not be denied promotion based on unsatisfactory performance on STAAR assessments above their enrolled grade level.
Districts should keep in mind that decisions have not yet been made about how test scores for these students will be used in state or federal accountability.
What are the STAAR graduation requirements for students who complete a high school course prior to spring 2012, the first high-stakes administration of STAAR EOC assessments?
A student who has STAAR as his or her graduation requirement and who has completed a high school course prior to spring 2012 (e.g., a grade 8 student who completed Algebra I during the 2010-2011 school year or a freshman who will complete English I in the first semester of the 2011–2012 school year) is not required to take that specific STAAR EOC assessment to fulfill his or her graduation requirement. As a result, the student's cumulative score will be based on fewer assessments. However, the student could choose to take the assessment beginning in spring 2012 and has the option of using the score in his or her cumulative score. Scores on EOC assessments taken prior to spring 2012 will not count towards a student's cumulative score.
Will the dyslexia bundled accommodations continue to be offered to eligible students taking the STAAR reading assessments?
Two of the three bundled accommodations will be available for students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities on the STAAR reading assessments in grades 3 through high school—the oral reading of item stems/answer options only and extended testing time, if needed. These accommodations do not need to be offered as a bundle; the needs of the student should be considered when determining which accommodations to use. A proper-nouns list like the one used in the TAKS assessments will no longer be provided.
Will ELL test participation criteria change for the STAAR program?
Yes. Revisions to ELL test participation criteria will be made through the commissioner of education rulemaking process and posted on the Texas Education Agency website in fall 2011.
When will more information about allowable linguistic accommodations for the STAAR program be available?
More information will be available in fall 2011 on the TEA Student Assessment website.
For which assessments will make-up testing be available?
For the STAAR program, make-up testing opportunities for students who are absent will be available for all grades, subjects, and courses. Make-up testing opportunities will also be available for all administrations, including the summer administrations.
Will there be a time limit for tests in the STAAR program?
All tests in the STAAR program will have a four-hour time limit. The test will start when students are directed to turn to the first question. TEA will review the four-hour time limit after the first STAAR administration in spring 2012 to determine if the policy needs to be reconsidered or adjusted for specific grades, subjects, or courses.
Accommodations for extra time or an extra day will be available for students who meet eligibility criteria for their use.
Can districts offer multiple test sessions in the same day?
Districts may administer multiple test sessions in the same day. If necessary, they may decide on early start times or extending testing beyond the typical school day, particularly at the high school level.
What happens to students who arrive late or after testing has begun?
All students must be given the maximum of four hours to complete the tests. Districts will need to determine if the student can test on that day or on a make-up day.
Are breaks allowed during STAAR assessments?
Breaks are allowed during STAAR assessments; however the following breaks must be included in the four-hour time limit.
- Breaks for water or snacks
- Bathroom breaks
- Breaks for physical activity (e.g., standing up and stretching)
- Routine medical breaks (e.g., to take medicine)
Breaks for lunch are not included in the four-hour time limit; however it is recommended that lunch be scheduled outside of the testing time.
Are there any released tests available for STAAR?
In fall 2011, selected test questions from all grades, subjects, and courses will be released. The first full release of spring test forms of STAAR will occur in summer 2014.
How will reporting change when STAAR is implemented?
The implementation of STAAR will bring some key changes to the way information is reported.
For TAKS all reports were provided in hard-copy format with the option to receive online reports for a fee. With the new STAAR program, all reports will be provided online. One copy of each of the Confidential Student Reports (CSRs) and labels will be provided in hard-copy format.
Because standards for STAAR EOC will not be set until February 2012, current EOC reports provide raw scores only. With the implementation of STAAR EOC assessments, results for students for the spring administrations will be delivered online shortly after the May test administration is complete, followed by the delivery of results on paper. For specific reporting dates, please refer to the 2011–2012 testing calendar, which is posted on the Student Assessment website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/calendars/ .
Alternate methods of reporting assessment results will be used with STAAR, which will provide opportunities to examine data in a variety of ways. Online tools for students, teachers, and campus and district personnel will provide the ability to track progress toward graduation, compare results across years and groups, and look at growth patterns for various groups of students.
How will the student and teacher data portals and the Texas Assessment Management System, delivered through PearsonAccess, be used with STAAR?
As with TAKS, there will be no charge for students, parents, or school districts to use the data portals of the Assessment Management System.
The student portal will continue to be used with STAAR, and beginning in 2012, students will be able to see their past TAKS and TELPAS results along with their STAAR results. Students first entering grade 9 and below in 2011–2012 will graduate under the STAAR graduation requirements. Students will be able to track their progress toward graduation within the student portal. Student results will continue to be available in the student portal at the same time that school districts receive their results online.
The teacher portal will continue to provide results at the class level for teachers. Districts will be able to upload information to create class groups and the assessment results for those students. This can be done at any time of the year so that teachers can see the past results of their current students. In addition, classroom linking information will be received from districts in the summer of each year. This information, the list of teachers, the classes they taught, and the students that were in those classes, will be provided to the assessment contractor, allowing class groups to be created to show the previous year assessment results.
Beginning in the 2011–2012 school year, districts will also have access to an analytic reporting tool in the Assessment Management System. Analytic reporting will allow users to analyze results in order to compare current and historical data. They can perform comparisons of campuses to campuses, campuses to districts, districts to districts, and districts to the state.
Campus and district personnel will also be able to organize the data to examine different demographic and program information groups, enabling easy access to cross-section analysis of the assessment data.
Where can I go to find more information about the STAAR program?
For more information about the STAAR program, visit the TEA Student Assessment website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar .