Parent Resources

Due to recent changes in legislation impacting state assessment and graduation requirements, we are updating the content of our STAAR resources website. To learn more about these changes please, visit our House Bill 5 information page.

STAAR is the new state assessment program that begins in spring 2012. STAAR is the acronym for The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness and will replace Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), the current state assessment program for students in grades 3-8 and the entering freshman class of 2011-2012.

Generally there are two types of standardized tests, norm-referenced and criterion referenced. Norm-referenced tests compare an individual student's results with other students' performance. It is often reported in terms of performing above average, on average or below average as compared to other students. Criterion-referenced exams compare a student's performance against a standard. Students are held accountable of meeting a performance standard and results are reported as such. STAAR is a criterion-referenced test that measures a student's performance in comparison to the curriculum standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for a subject area and grade level.

Why are we changing the state assessment?

What is a passing score?

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is the design of this test based on some other test?

The state of Texas first started a statewide assessment program in 1980. The first exam was TABS, that was then followed by TEAMS, followed by TAAS and then followed by newest assessment, STAAR. Each exam reflected greater rigor and complexity than its predecessor. STAAR is the next generation in the Texas assessment program.

Who built it? What makes them experts?

According to the “Texas Assessment Program Test Development Process” educator committees representing the state geographically, ethnically, by gender, and by type and size of school play a large role in the development process. The educator committees work with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to review the state standards (TEKS) and to prepare draft objectives and to determine how these objectives will be assessed. Professional assessment item writers develop the items measuring each objective. TEA curriculum and assessment specialists as well as educator committees review the items prior to field testing including many students from across the state.

The development of end-of-course assessments also includes faculty from higher education and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Did students help design? Did teachers?

Just as they have in the past, educator committees have been involved in the development of the assessment. Students have not been involved in the design development of a Texas state assessment. Students play a major role in the field testing of potential test items.

Is it still paper and pencil?

STAAR assessments for grades 3-8 will be paper and pencil. The end-of-course assessments for high school will be available in paper and pencil and online formats.

Alternate versions for kids with disabilities?

Alternate versions of the STAAR assessment are being created for grades 3-8 and nine of the end-of-course exams. Modified assessments are not being developed for Algebra II, Chemistry or Physics. Linguistically accommodated STAAR assessments will be available for eligible students in grades 3-8 and high school.

What subject areas will be included in the exam?

Students in grades 3-8 will be assess in the same content areas in STAAR as they were in TAKS: Grade 3: mathematics and reading Grade 4: mathematics, reading, and writing Grade 5: mathematics, reading, and science Grade 6: mathematics and reading Grade 7: mathematics, reading, and writing Grade 8: mathematics, reading, science, and social studies.

Are the students still being tested on TEKS or are there new standards?

The TEKS are the same; however these standards do have a revision time line as well. Recently the standards for English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies have been revised. The TEKS can be found at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=6148.

What is the Curriculum STAAR will focus on and are the schools prepared?

Districts implementing a curriculum based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and who align the instructional program with these standards are preparing students for STAAR.

How does it correlate with end of course?

End-of-course assessments will measure student learning in relation to the course content. The TEKS for a particular course will be the focus for the assessment items. Previously, students taking a TAKS test in 10th grade might encounter items in mathematics from several grade levels below. Under STAAR, students will be held accountable for demonstrating mastery of the TEKS tied a specific course.

Do all kids take STAAR?

The short answer is yes, the vast majority of students will be taking STAAR. Under STAAR, students in grades 3-8 will take exams in reading, math science and social studies just as they do in the current TAKS. Spanish versions of the STAAR exams in grades 3 through 5 will be available for English Language Learners. Students receiving Special Education services will have the decision as to which exam they will be taking determined by the Admissions, Review and Dismissal Committee (ARD), in which parents are invited to participate. High school students beginning with the freshman class of 2011-2012 will see the most changes. As a result of changes enacted by the 81st Legislature, high school students will take more exams. These exams, called end- of-course exams, will be taken by students enrolled in the following courses:

House Bill 5: Five Exams

  • English I (Reading and Writing with one score)
  • English II (Reading and Writing with one score)
  • Algebra I
  • Biology
  • US History

Why is Texas phasing in the EOC performance standards?

When compared to the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), the STAAR EOC Assessments represent an increase in difficulty and cognitive complexity. The Performance Standard phase-in provides schools with time to adjust instruction, increase teacher effectiveness, and close knowledge gaps before the recommended standards take effect in the 2015-2016 school year.

Does my child have to retake a course if they "fail" the EOC?

No. Your child will only be required to retake a course if he or she has a failing final grade in the course, NOT the EOC. Your child will be required to retake an EOC if they score below the minimum score for the STAAR EOC assessment.

Why have the performance standards been set for STAAR EOC, but not for STAAR 3-8?
The timeline for standard-setting activities will differ for STAAR 3-8 and STAAR EOC because of the timing of available assessment data and different legislative requirements. For STAAR EOC, operational assessment data are available from the spring 2011 administrations. Therefore, performance standards were set in April 2012, prior to the spring administrations. However, operational assessment data for STAAR 3-8 will not be available until after the spring 2012 administrations; for this reason performance standards will be set in the fall of 2012.

What information will be reported to me, the parent, for spring 2012 STAAR?
For STAAR EOC assessments, you will receive a Confidential Student Report (CSR) for each STAAR assessment your child took. The CSR will include your child's test results for each reporting category as well as an overall scale score and the performance level achieved by your child. The CSR will also include a unique access code for the student data portal which can be found at http://www.TexasAssessment.com/students. Through this portal, you can see test results across administrations and years. For STAAR 3-8 assessments, you will receive CSRs in January of 2013 for the spring 2012 administration.

What is a performance standard?

Performance Standards are the degree to which your child demonstrated mastery of the required content and skills for a specific subject or course.
On the STAAR EOC, there are three levels that describe student performance:
Level III: Advanced Academic Performance
Level II: Satisfactory Academic Performance
Level I: Unsatisfactory academic Performance

How do I know which EOC performance standards my child is held accountable to?
The Performance Standards your child will be held accountable to is dependent on the year that your child takes his or her FIRST STAAR EOC Assessment in a given content area.
For example, if your child takes his first EOC in Algebra during the 2012 spring administration, then he or she is held to the first phase-in Performance Standards for ALL of his or her EOC Assessments in Mathematics.

To view the performance standards for all EOCs at each phase-in, click here: EOC Performance Standards.pdf