The following was included in TCTA's 2015-16 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2015 but is subject to change.

In an Aug. 29, 2014, letter to administrators, TEA announced a number of important changes to Texas’ assessment program for 2014-15. Due to these changes, TEA will maintain the initial STAAR performance standards for 2014-15.

STAAR math, grades 3-8

In 2014-15, the math TEKS for K-8 that the SBOE revised in 2012 will be implemented in classroom instruction and tested on the STAAR math assessments for grades 3-8.

New performance standards for the grades 3-8 math STAAR won’t be set until summer 2015, so students who take the spring 2015 tests will receive raw scores prior to the end of the school year. Once new performance standards are approved, they will be retroactively applied to students’ spring 2015 test results.

Since the new performance standards for grades 3-8 math will not be determined prior to the release of the state accountability ratings, the 2015 state and federal accountability results will not be based on the new standards.

Also, Student Success Initiative (SSI) retest opportunities for STAAR math at grades 5 and 8 will not be offered in 2015. For 2014–15, districts will use other relevant academic information to make promotion/retention decisions for math. (SSI will still be in effect for reading in 2014–15.)

STAAR for accelerated students

The USDE has denied TEA’s January 2014 request for a waiver from certain ESEA/NCLB requirements that TEA sought to avoid double-testing accelerated middle school students who take Algebra I. TEA says the agency is considering its options and will share additional information as soon as it is available.

STAAR Accommodated (STAAR A)

TEA is developing an online, accommodated version of STAAR called STAAR A, which will provide embedded supports designed to help students with disabilities access the content being tested. These supports include visual aids, graphic organizers, clarifications of construct-irrelevant terms, and text-to-speech functionality.

STAAR A will be available beginning in spring 2015 for eligible students. TEA will post eligibility requirements and student tutorials as well as training resources on its Student Assessment website in fall 2014.

STAAR Alternate 2

House Bill 5, passed 2013 Texas Legislature, required a redesign of STAAR Alternate. STAAR Alternate 2 is a standardized item-based assessment administered to students in a one-on-one setting.

Students will respond to questions provided in a test booklet, and answers will be submitted by the test administrator in an online form.

The first administration of STAAR Alternate 2 will be in February 2015. New performance standards will be set in spring 2015, and STAAR Alternate 2 results will be reported with STAAR results. 

STAAR field testing

Beginning in spring 2015, the field-test prompts will be removed from the operational grade 7, English I, and English II tests and will be field-tested in a separate prompt study that will be administered every three years beginning in 2017. An additional prompt study for grade 4 (both English and Spanish) will also be conducted on this same schedule.

According to TEA, the prompt study at grade 7 is being initiated to minimize the field-test burden on students during the operational administration so that students are required to write only two compositions during the two-day assessment rather than three.

TEA says the prompt studies are being initiated for English I and II because reading and writing were combined in spring 2014, and writing two essays in the five-hour time frame proved challenging for some students.

STAAR oral administration

Standardized oral administration (SOA) for the STAAR program, an online option, will be expanded in 2014–15 to include grade 5 science and grade 6 reading and mathematics assessments. Districts will be able to test students using SOA for STAAR in the following grades and subjects:

  • grade 4 reading and math
  • grade 5 science
  • grade 6 reading and math
  • grade 7 reading and math
  • grade 8 science and social studies

Test release plan

Due to both the substantive revision to the grades 3-8 math TEKS and the development of new assessments (STAAR A and STAAR Alternate 2) for students receiving special education services, the agency’s ability to release test questions varies across the STAAR program, particularly in 2014-15. The release schedule for 2014-15 is as follows:

Academic Year STAAR General Assessments and STAAR Spanish STAAR 3-8 Math STAAR A STAAR Alternate 2
2014-15 Full Release* Partial Release** No Release No Release
2015-16 Full Release Full Release Full Release Full Release

* Full Release is an intact test form that represents the entire test blueprint.
** Partial Release is a subset of test questions that are eligible for assessment at a given grade and, therefore, do not represent the entire test blueprint.

STAAR progress measures

Changes to the STAAR program affect TEA’s ability to report student progress on the assessments. The agency will make the following adjustments to the STAAR progress measures for 2014-15:

  • Students will not receive a STAAR progress measure for grades 4-8 math.

  • A STAAR progress measure will be reported for the first time for grade 7 writing. 
  • A STAAR progress measure will be reported for eligible STAAR A students who took STAAR or STAAR L in 2013-14.

  • Students will not receive a STAAR Alternate 2 progress measure.


Beginning in October 2014, the TAKS will be administered online three times per year: October, March and July. TEA reports that districts will receive a revised TAKS manual in fall 2014. This manual is intended for use during all future TAKS administrations; it will no longer be printed and shipped. The TAKS manual will be accessible online.  

Questions on STAAR changes

Questions or requests for additional information on the 2014-15 changes to the assessment program should be directed to TEA’s Student Assessment Division at 512-463-9536 or

See the complete letter to administrators