The Texas Education Agency adopted final rules incorporating several major changes to the 2016 Test Security Supplement, including clarification that students may remain in the testing environment once they have completed their test as well as requirements for students in attendance who refuse to take the test. 

The rules are effective March 15, 2016, and include five substantive changes for the administration of the 2016 assessments, according to TEA.

The first change relates to the scoring of a student's answer document. To help clarify existing policy, the 2016 Test Security Supplement specifies that students who are in grades 3-8 or are taking an end-of-course assessment for the first time who are in attendance on the day of testing but choose not to participate or refuse to mark their answers on the answer document or in the online form will have their tests submitted for scoring as is. The answer document that is submitted at the conclusion of the student's test session is considered to be scorable. Districts are responsible for providing all eligible students who are in attendance during the administration of an assessment with an opportunity to participate in the test and for appropriately scoring each answer document. At adoption, the 2016 Test Security Supplement has been amended to clarify the scoring requirement for students taking an end-of-course assessment for the first time.

The second policy change applies to Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) Rater Training Calibration Activities. TEA has stipulated in the 2016 Test Security Supplement that the calibration activities must be completed in a proctored environment. The 2016 Test Security Supplement also directs districts to make the necessary facility arrangements to hold calibration activities. The supplement stipulates that receiving or providing unallowable assistance during TELPAS calibration activities constitutes a serious testing irregularity.

Third, in response to requests from district personnel for additional flexibility while still allowing for the preview of State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Alternate 2 secure test material to assist in the preparation of accommodations, trained test administrators will now be permitted to keep the test materials in their possession throughout the day as long as the secure materials are kept in locked storage when not in use. All materials must still be checked back in to the campus coordinator at the end of the day and district and campus personnel are required to verify compliance with these procedures.

The fourth change pertains to the calculator requirement for state assessments, which allowed districts to provide either a handheld calculator or a calculator application available on a tablet. The 2016 Test Security Supplement specifies that the internet capabilities of a provided calculator or device that has calculator application must be disabled. Devices must also be locked down (in kiosk mode) to prevent the use of other applications during testing.

Last, the TEA clarifies policies for the verification of the destruction of materials. Districts will be instructed to verify that procedures are in place for the collection and destruction of any state-supplied reference materials, recordings, graph paper, or scratch paper that students have written on during a test.

In response to public comment, the TEA has revised language from the proposed 2016 Test Security Supplement that required districts to release students from the testing area once they had completed and submitted their tests for scoring. At adoption, the 2016 Test Security Supplement states that it can be locally determined whether once a student has completed and submitted a test, the student may quietly read a book or be allowed to leave the testing area.

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