The following was included in TCTA's 2019-20 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2019 but is subject to change.

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

STAAR

The STAAR system annually tests students in grades 3-8 and tests high school students via end-of-course exams. High school students must pass Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology and U.S. History end-of-course exams to graduate. 

The STAAR system annually tests students in grades 3-8 and tests high school students via end-of-course exams. High school students must pass Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology and U.S. History end-of-course exams to graduate. 

Individual graduation committees must be established for students in 11th or 12th grade who have failed up to two of the EOCs. The committee determines whether a student can graduate despite failing the exams (see page 40).

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 EOC passage requirements.

Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, assessments for grades 3-8 may not have more than three parts. Each part must be designed so that, in grades 3 and 4, 85% of students will be able to complete that part within 60 minutes; and in grades five through 8, 85% of students will be able to complete that part within 75 minutes. The time allowed for the test may not exceed eight hours and may occur in multiple parts over more than one day. These requirements do not apply if, as determined by commissioner-appointed assessment advisory committees, the assessment would no longer comply with federal law or be valid and reliable. These requirements also do not apply to a classroom portfolio method of assessing writing.

The Algebra I EOC must be administered with the aid of technology but may include one or more parts that prohibit the use of technology. English I and II EOCs no longer must assess writing within the same assessment instrument. EOCs can be administered in multiple parts over more than one day.

Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, the testing schedule for STAAR cannot include a test administration on the first instructional day of a week. This limitation does not apply to a classroom portfolio method of assessing writing if student performance under this method is less than 50 percent of a student’s overall assessed performance in writing.

Students who opt out

State law provides that parents are not entitled to remove their child from a class or other school activity 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, 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

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. Districts also 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: 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 EOC exams 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 at www.texasassessment.com.

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. Texas was granted a waiver from the cap in 2018-19. 

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 other grades, 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 district must provide the student with accelerated instruction, which may require participation before or after normal school hours and may include participation outside of the normal school year. The maximum class size for accelerated instruction in grades 5 and 8 is 10 students per instructor. A student in grade 5 or 8 who fails to complete 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 retest. On the third try, the district may administer an alternative assessment approved by the commissioner, 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 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 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 that teacher taught.

Test details release

On or before Sept. 1 each year, the commissioner must make available on the TEA website (https://goo.gl/H51dzi) 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 must be released every three years. However, TEA can defer releasing tests to the extent necessary to develop additional tests.

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

Assessment