TEA has announced several revisions and clarifications that apply to the 2018 testing administration.

TEA scrutinizing medical exemptions from STAAR

With the implementation of the new accountability system in 2018, TEA said it will more closely monitor assessment participation rates for campuses, districts, and charter schools. To ensure that students who have experienced a significant medical event do not impact participation rates, TEA has developed a new process for medical exemptions from STAAR.

According to TEA, the following will apply:

To be considered to receive a medical exemption from STAAR, the student must be absent during the testing and makeup window and all efforts to assess the student must have been unsuccessful. Medical exemption requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for students who meet one of the specific medical conditions listed below. The information used to make the medical exemption determination must reflect the student's situation throughout the testing and makeup window.

  • The student is unable to receive sufficient or consistent homebound services due to medical issues. (This means that the student is currently receiving homebound services; however, the homebound teacher is unable to provide services for the majority of the documented time due to the medical issues.)
  • The student is unable to respond to test questions due to a terminal or degenerative illness. (This means that the student's diagnosis is actively/currently affecting his or her daily activities such that no available accommodations can reasonably mitigate these factors.)
  • The student is receiving extensive short-term medical treatment due to a medical emergency or severe injury (e.g., coma, major head trauma, organ failure). Note: appendectomy, tonsillectomy, or broken arms/legs do not constitute a severe medical issue.
  • The student is unable to interact with peers or educators without the risk of infection or contamination to himself or herself or others (e.g., measles, respiratory illness, malaria). Note: colds and flu do not constitute a significant medical emergency.

The request must include a redacted copy of the medical documentation (e.g., licensed physician's note) attached in the appropriate field. All personably identifiable information must be redacted, including first and last names, PEIMS number, and social security number.

To request a medical exemption, the district testing coordinator must complete a Medical Exemption Request form for each student who qualifies. 

Eligible students can use new spell check feature on STAAR tests

According to TEA, students who meet eligibility for the designated support of spelling assistance will be able to use this new personal needs and preferences (PNP) option for the writing prompt during online administrations of STAAR grades 4 and 7 writing, English I, and English II. The spelling assistance tool will alert students when a typed word is not found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary source list. It will then offer up to five suggestions for replacement words from which students may choose. The tool evaluates words independent of the context. Eligible students should practice using this new tool to determine if it meets their needs. This is a new option available for students who meet eligibility requirements; however, students may use any allowable types of spelling assistance listed in the designated support policy document in lieu of, or in addition to, this new support.

Click here for more information.

Transcribing student responses

Student responses recorded in the test booklet may be transcribed onto a blank answer document. Please note that this change is a departure from previous years and from information in current test administration materials. Click here for more information.

Technology-enhanced item pilot

Technology-enhanced items (TEI) will be introduced to create more engaging content and allow for demonstration of higher order thinking skills. TEA is piloting a few TEIs during the spring 2018 STAAR online administrations for grades 3–8 math and reading. The TEI pilot is only available for students testing online and is optional for the students. The TEI pilot, which will include up to five TEI sample questions, will be displayed after the student completes and submits the STAAR online assessment and will not affect the student’s score on STAAR. Click here for more information.

Classroom displays during testing

Education Commissioner Mike Morath recently issued a reminder to educators that, while an instructional environment should be maintained during the testing window, it is not necessary to conceal or remove instructional or reference materials in the testing area, classroom, or hallways unless they could provide a direct source of answers for the subject being tested. For example, if a fifth-grade testing room has a graphic of the moon phases, it should be covered or removed during the science test. However, it is fine during the grade 5 math test. When in doubt, talk to your chief academic officer, who is familiar with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and can determine the appropriateness of posted materials.