TEA released additional details about its optional Beginning of Year assessments for use by school districts and parents at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The assessments are designed to diagnose understanding of the TEKS from the previous school year and should be administered to students based on their prior year enrolled grade level. These exams are intended to support district and educator analysis of student progress, and are only available for grades 4-12.

According to TEA's Guidance on Optional Beginning of Year Assessments FAQ (5/19/20), the BOY assessments have been built using released STAAR test questions that measure the TEKS and cover the same grades/subjects covered by STAAR. Therefore, the student performance data is not intended to be used for purposes such as accountability, staff performance or compensation measures.

A district or a parent may register a student for the optional BOY assessments. The registration window for districts opens July 20 and closes Sept. 18. The registration window for parents opens Aug. 24 and closes Sept. 18. The testing window opens July 27 and closes Sept. 25.

The BOY tests are available in an online or paper format, although the online test is recommended. Students can access the online format from school or at home; students accessing the online format from home can access the tests at home through a web browser, using Pearson’s Schoolnet platform, and will receive automated scoring results immediately. Reporting data for online testers will be aggregated and provided to districts. Test results will include how a student performed overall, how he or she did on each test question along with the correct answer, images of each test question, and recommended next steps. Overall test performance will be reported by raw score, scale score and performance level. Results will also be broken down by TEKS reporting categories.

In general, the BOY assessments have the same number of test questions as the corresponding STAAR test and take about the same length of time to complete. However, there are no writing prompts included in the Reading/Language Arts assessments.

Since EOY assessments can be taken at home, students can pace themselves as necessary to complete tests. Students will have the ability to pause the online tests but will not be able to retake tests.

All of the tests have the following accommodations/accessibility tools: highlighter, notepad, help, guideline, color, zoom, mark for review, answer masking, answer eliminator. (Text-to-speech must be indicated in the registration file).

The tools for specific content-related tests include: basic calculator, scientific calculator, graphing calculator, customary ruler, metric ruler, mathematics reference materials (i.e., conversions and formulas), science reference materials (i.e., formulas and periodic table). No content and language supports (pop ups) will be available given the quick turnaround for these tests.

Students should use the same accommodations and accessibility tools they routinely and effectively use during classroom instruction and classroom testing. According to TEA, it is not necessary to hold an ARD, LPAC or other decision-making meeting to determine accommodations for the EOY assessments.

Paper format tests will involve printing and possibly shipping test booklets and answer documents, returning answer documents to a district for scoring if reporting data is desired, and entering students’ responses into a test form if reporting data is desired. For students who take the BOY assessments on paper, districts should provide local guidance to parents on returning answer documents back to the district.

Toolkits for districts and parents are being rolled out by TEA.