The following was included in TCTA's 2016-17 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2016 but is subject to change.

The current state student assessment system, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), began in 2011-12. 

STAAR

The STAAR system annually tests grade 3-8 students and tests high school students via end-of-course exams.

Students who entered grade 9 during the 2011-12 school year or later must pass the Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology, and U.S. History end-of-course exams to graduate. However, legislation was passed in 2015 designed to address the fact that the Class of 2015, being the first graduating class required to pass the STAAR end-of-course exams in order to graduate, was subject to evolving testing standards, and thus needed special consideration as a result. 

Accordingly, provisions were put in place until Sept. 1, 2017, to allow students in the 11th or 12th grade who have failed up to two of the EOCs required to graduate to be able to graduate if their “individual graduation committee” votes unanimously to graduate the student. An IGC must be created at the end of the student’s 11th grade year for each 11th- or 12th-grade student who fails up to two EOCs. The committee is composed of the principal/designee, the teacher of each course for which the student failed the EOC, the department chair or lead teacher supervising the teacher of the course, and as applicable, the student’s parent (or the student if at least 18 years of age). For a student to be able to graduate under this route, the student must successfully complete the curriculum requirements required for high school graduation. The IGC must recommend additional requirements by which the student may qualify to graduate, including: (1) additional remediation; and (2) for each test failed, the completion of a project related to the subject area or the preparation of a portfolio of work samples in the subject area. The IGC must consider the recommendation of the teacher of each relevant course, the grade in each relevant course, the EOC score, hours of remediation, attendance rate, satisfaction of TSI benchmarks, successful completion of dual-credit courses, and performance on a number of additional measures. The committee’s vote to determine a student’s eligibility for graduation must be unanimous, and the decision is final and unappealable.

The legislation also provides that a student who fails the Algebra I or English II EOC but receives a proficient score on the Texas Success Initiative in the corresponding subject satisfies the requirements regarding passage of the Algebra I or English II EOC.

Additional legislation passed in 2015 provides that assessments must be designed so that they can be completed by 85 percent of students within two hours, in grades 3-5; or 180 minutes in grades 6-8. The time allowed for administration of an assessment instrument may not exceed eight hours and the test may occur on only one day.  

TEA was required to conduct a study during the 2015-16 school year to develop an alternative method of assessing writing in grades 4-7, as well as the English I and II end-of-course exams. TEA is required to pilot the alternative writing assessment method in designated school districts across the state during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

Students who opt out

State law provides that parents are not entitled to remove their child from a class or other school activity in order to avoid a test. TEA requires that students who are in attendance on the day of testing and choose not to participate or refuse to mark their answers on the answer document or in the online form, and who are in grades 3-8 or are taking an EOC for the first time, will have their tests submitted for scoring as is (meaning they will be recorded as failing the test).

See also www.tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/staar. 

2016-17 STAAR REQUIREMENTS
Grades 3-8 assessments

  • Grade 3 Reading, Math 
  • Grade 4 Reading, Math, Writing
  • Grade 5 Reading,* Math,* Science 
  • Grade 6 Reading, Math 
  • Grade 7 Reading, Math, Writing
  • Grade 8 Reading,* Math,* Science, Social Studies
    * Promotion requirement

End-of-course assessments**
(applicable to students who entered grade 9 in 2011-12 or later)

  • English I and English II
  • Algebra I
  • Biology
  • U.S. History 
    **Special provisions apply for 11th and 12th grades in 2016-17. 
    Source: TEA Student Assessment Division

Limits on testing

Field tests

Separate field testing of existing tests can be conducted no more than once every other year. TEA must notify each school district before the beginning of the school year of any required participation in field testing. 

Benchmark tests

Districts are prohibited from administering more than two benchmark tests per state assessment, excluding administration of college prep assessments such as the PSAT, SAT, ACT, AP exams, etc. A parent can request additional benchmark tests. Additionally, districts are prohibited from administering any locally required test designed to prepare students for state-administered tests on more than 10 percent of instructional days; campus site-based decision making committees may approve an even lower percentage of days.

Test administration

Test administration procedures must minimize disruptions to school operations and the classroom environment.

Limits on removal from class

School districts are required to adopt policies that limit removal of students from class for remedial tutoring or test preparation for more than 10 percent of the school days on which the class is offered, unless the parent gives written consent.

Vertical scale scores

As required by law, TEA developed a vertical scale for assessing student performance on the English STAAR for reading and math in grades 3-8 and Spanish STAAR for reading and math in grades 3-6.

Measure of annual improvement 

TEA is required to determine the annual improvement necessary for a student to be prepared to perform satisfactorily on grades 5 and 8 state assessments as well as the EOCs required for graduation. 

Student report for teachers

A school district is required to prepare a report of the comparisons made under the measure of annual improvement and provide it to teachers at the beginning of the school year for incoming students (a TCTA suggestion) as well as for students from the prior school year.

Student assessment data portal

TEA established a student assessment data portal for use by school districts, teachers, parents, students and public institutions of higher education. 

Special education students 

STAAR Alternate: This test is designed to assess students in grades 3-8 and high school receiving special education services who have significant cognitive disabilities. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act puts a 1 percent cap at the state level on the number of students who can be assessed in this manner.

STAAR Accommodated: This test is offered to special education students who don’t qualify for STAAR Alternate but need help in accessing the content being assessed. STAAR A is an online assessment in the same grades and subjects as STAAR. The passing standards for STAAR A are the same as any STAAR test. STAAR A provides embedded supports designed to help students with disabilities access the content being assessed. These embedded supports include visual aids, graphic organizers, clarifications of construct-irrelevant terms, and text-to-speech functionality.

Student promotion/accelerated instruction

Texas’ Student Success Initiative, which prohibits the social promotion of students, places emphasis on the STAAR test for determining whether a student advances to the next grade level in grade 5 (a fifth-grade student must pass the math and reading STAAR tests to be promoted to grade 6) and in grade 8 (an eighth-grade student must pass the math and reading STAAR tests to be promoted to grade 9).

For all grades other than 5 and 8, districts must adopt a policy regarding student advancement. It must include: consideration of the student’s score on the state assessment to the extent applicable; the recommendation of the student’s teacher; the student’s grade in each subject/course; and any other necessary information determined by the district.

Each time a student fails a state assessment, the school district must provide the student with accelerated instruction, which may require participation of the student before or after normal school hours and may include participation outside of the normal school year. The maximum class size for accelerated instruction classes in grades 5 and 8 is 10 students per instructor. A student in grade 5 or 8 who fails to complete the required accelerated instruction cannot be promoted.
A student in grade 5 or 8 who fails the state assessment but is promoted must be assigned in all foundation curriculum subjects to teachers who meet all state and federal qualifications to teach those subjects and grades.

The first time a student fails the STAAR in grade 5 or 8, he/she must be provided at least two opportunities to retake the test. On the third try, the district may administer an alternative assessment approved by the commissioner of education, and the student may be promoted if he/she performs at grade level on the alternative assessment.

After a student fails the STAAR a second time, a grade placement committee (GPC) must be established to prescribe the accelerated instruction program the student must receive. The GPC includes the principal or designee, the student’s parent or guardian, and the teacher of the subject of the failed STAAR test. In the case of a special
education student, the GPC is the Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) committee. If the student fails the STAAR a third time, he/she must be retained unless the GPC unanimously determines that if promoted and given accelerated instruction, the student is likely to perform at grade level. In this case, the student must be provided with accelerated instruction, even after promotion. 

Test results release

TEA must notify districts and campuses of test results no later than the 21st day after the administration date. The school district must disclose to each teacher the test results of the students the teacher taught.

Test details release

On or before Sept. 1 of each year, the commissioner must make available on the TEA website the number of questions on the assessment instrument, the number of questions that must be answered correctly to achieve satisfactory performance, the number of questions that must be answered correctly to achieve satisfactory performance under the college readiness performance standard, and the corresponding scale scores for each of the state assessments.

Test release schedule

Tests were released to the public in the 2015-16 school year, and will be released every three years thereafter. Legislation passed in 2015 also allows TEA to defer releasing tests to the extent necessary to develop additional tests.

Computer-administered tests optional

The commissioner may not require school districts or charters to administer an assessment by computer.

Test security

It is a class C misdemeanor to intentionally disclose any portion of a test that is likely to affect the individual performance of one or more students on the assessment.

Scheduling during STAAR testing week

UIL competitions may not be scheduled on Monday through Thursday, or the last testing day, of the primary STAAR assessment week. This provision does not apply to retesting.

See also:

Assessment Calendars

STAAR for Special Education Students

Assessment