Education Commissioner Mike Morath finalized rules setting STAAR performance standards. The standards collapse the former phase-in schedule for passing standards into one “Approaches Grade Level” category, which represents the minimum passing requirement. The next level of achievement will be called “Meets Grade Level," which represents students performing at a passing level considered to be on track for postsecondary success. The final rules also rename the Level III performance standards as “Masters Grade Level.” A student who fails to meet the minimum passing requirements will be designated as "Does Not Meet Grade Level."

When the commissioner proposed the rules in December 2016, some groups were concerned that using the label “Approaches Grade Level” was a misnomer and confusing because under the new rules, students performing at the “Approaches Grade Level” standard are considered to have met the minimum standard for passing. TEA’s response was, while considered passing, “Approaches Grade Level” is a more accurate description of student performance: “The minimum score needed to meet Approaches Grade Level is the 2016 STAAR® Level II standard. A student performing in this range has met any assessment grade promotion or graduation requirements since students in this category generally demonstrate the ability to apply the assessed knowledge and skills in familiar contexts, but the student still has not met the final panel-recommended passing standard indicating that the student is on track for postsecondary success.”

TEA distinguished this category from the “Meets Grade Level” category, which designates students performing at that level as on track for postsecondary success. 

Accordingly, the commissioner adopted the rules with no changes from what was proposed. The new performance standards go into effect in the 2016-17 school year.