For the Texas Education Agency’s list of frequently asked questions about STAAR click here.
To access a list of frequently asked questions with district-specific information please see the list below.
(click on questions for answers)
What is STAAR?
The State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) is the state-mandated assessment system. STAAR implementations began during the 2011–12 school year.
Is STAAR different from TAKS?
Yes, STAAR test items have been developed to match the cognitive complexity in the TEKS.
Is STAAR aligned to our current TEKS?
Yes, in fact the STAAR test will be more aligned to the TEKS because STAAR test items are developed to more closely match the cognitive complexity in the TEKS.
What grades and subjects are tested with STAAR?
In grades 3–8, STAAR tests the exact same grades and subjects as TAKS did. Beginning in ninth grade, STAAR will consist of five End-of-Course exams that cover the four core subject areas. The subjects tested with EOC include Algebra I, Biology, English I and II (Reading and Writing) and U.S. History. To graduate, students must pass the EOC exam for each of the associated courses in which they are registered.
Who must take STAAR End-of-Course assessments?
Students who were first enrolled as ninth graders or below in fall 2011 are required to take the End-of-Course (EOC) assessment in each subject for which he is enrolled and an EOC exam exists.
What are the performance levels on STAAR?
Three performance levels will apply to the general STAAR assessments, STAAR Modified and linguistically accommodated forms of STAAR (STAAR-L). They are as follows:
Level I—Unsatisfactory Academic Performance
Performance in this category indicates that students are inadequately prepared for the next grade or course. They do not demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the assessed knowledge and skills. Students in this category are unlikely to succeed in the next grade or course without significant, ongoing academic intervention.
Level II—Satisfactory Academic Performance*
Performance in this category indicates that students are sufficiently prepared for the next grade or course. They generally demonstrate the ability to think critically and apply the assessed knowledge and skills in familiar contexts. Students in this category have a reasonable likelihood of success in the next grade or course but may need short-term, targeted academic intervention.
*For Algebra II and English III, this level of performance also indicates students are sufficiently prepared for postsecondary success.
Level III—Advanced Academic Performance
Performance in this category indicates that students are well prepared for the next grade or course. They demonstrate the ability to think critically and apply the assessed knowledge and skills in varied contexts, both familiar and unfamiliar. Students in this category have a high likelihood of success in the next grade or course with little or no academic intervention.
For the STAAR Alternate assessments, the performance labels are listed below.
Level I—Unsatisfactory Academic Performance
Performance in this category indicates that students are insufficiently prepared for the assessment tasks at the next grade or course even with instructional supports for accessing the curriculum through prerequisite skills. They demonstrate insufficient knowledge and skills that are linked to content measured at this grade or course. Performance on the tested skills required cueing and prompting. Students in this category are in need of significant intervention in addition to continued supports to show progress for the assessment tasks at the next grade or course.
Level II—Satisfactory Academic Performance
Performance in this category indicates that students are sufficiently prepared for the assessment tasks in the next grade or course with instructional supports for accessing the curriculum through prerequisite skills. They demonstrate sufficient understanding of the knowledge and skills that are linked to content measured at this grade or course. Performance on the tested skills required little or no cueing. Students in this category have a reasonable likelihood of showing progress for the assessment tasks at the next grade or course with continued supports.
Level III—Accomplished Academic Performance
Performance in this category indicates that students are well prepared for the assessment tasks in the next grade or course with instructional supports for accessing the curriculum through prerequisite skills. They demonstrate consistent understanding of the knowledge and skills by generalizing the skills to a different context. Students in this category have a high likelihood of showing progress and generalization of knowledge for the assessment tasks at the next grade or course with supports.
What are the passing standards?
Level II is the passing standard that must be met to satisfactorily pass any given STAAR exam. Level II passing standards for STAAR and EOC will be phased in over five years. STAAR 3–8 Performance Standards and STAAR EOC Performance Standards Charts can be found on the TEA website (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/).
Is STAAR timed?
Algebra I, Biology and U.S. History have a four-hour time limit. English I and II have a five-hour time limit. The test starts when students are directed to turn to the first question. Accommodations for extra time or an extra day are available for students who meet eligibility criteria for their use.
How does the time limit affect those taking online testing or those students who need extended time?
Accommodations for extra time are available for students who meet eligibility criteria for their use. Accommodations for an extra day require TEA approval.
What does the test look like?
Schematics and blueprints for tests are available at: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/
Are there STAAR questions available for review now?
Yes, they are available on TEA's website. TEA states:
“These State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™) released questions are samples only and do not represent all the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) student expectations from each reporting category eligible for assessment.”
Sample questions are available here: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/testquestions/. Test questions and answer keys for all grade levels can be found here: www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/testquestions/.
Will the Student Success Initiative (SSI) go away now that the state has a new assessment?
No. Students in grades 5 and 8 will continue to be required to pass reading and math at the respective grade levels to move on to the next grade. Students have three opportunities to pass STAAR in grades 5 and 8, and therefore will be required the pass the test to move on, which was the past requirement with TAKS for SSI grades and subjects.
How will accountability change?
The last TAKS-based accountability ratings were issued in 2011. State accountability ratings were suspended in 2012. The new state rating system will debut in 2013. Federal accountability (AYP) remained in place for spring 2012 and beyond.
How many more testing days does the STAAR assessment require?
STAAR EOC requires up to 45 testing days when it is fully implemented in 2015. (Note: Districts will administer 45 days of testing but that does not mean students will be taking 45 days worth of state tests.)
Is there a Dyslexia Bundle?
Two of the three bundled accommodations will be available for students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities on the STAAR reading assessments in grades 3 through high school. These accommodations do not need to be offered as a bundle; the needs of the student should be considered when determining which accommodations to use. A proper-nouns list like the one used in the TAKS assessments will no longer be provided. Students must be identified as dyslexic by their 504 or ARD committee to qualify for this accommodation.
Are the test available in Spanish?
As with TAKS, Spanish versions of STAAR are available for eligible ELLs in grades 3 through 5 in each grade and subject assessed by the English versions. Additionally, linguistically accommodated versions of STAAR, called STAAR L, are available for eligible ELLs in grades 3 through 8 and high school, including L versions of the STAAR grades 3 through 8 and EOC assessments in mathematics, science and social studies. STAAR L reading, writing and English I–III assessments will not be developed. ELLs in grade 6 and above will be given access to dictionaries when taking STAAR reading, writing and English I–III tests. ELLs in grades 3–5 may be eligible to use dictionaries as a linguistic accommodation when taking reading and writing tests. STAAR L versions will be administered on the same schedule as STAAR assessments. Both Spanish STAAR and STAAR L are designed to be comparable to STAAR in content, rigor and academic achievement standards. Following implementation of the STAAR program, the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) has been reviewed and adjusted as needed to maintain an appropriate relationship between academic language proficiency as defined by TELPAS and academic achievement as defined by STAAR.
How has the state modified STAAR for students with special needs?
Testing accommodations will be made as needed according to each student's Individual Education Plan. There are STAAR Modified and STAAR Alternate versions of the all STAAR 3–8 exams and for the STAAR EOC tests, and all students taking STAAR Modified or STAAR Alternate tests will be on the MHSP.
How has the state modified STAAR for English Language Learners (ELL)?
ELL students will continue to take the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS). There are plans to adjust items on TELPAS to align more closely with the rigor of the STAAR tests. A linguistically accommodated version of STAAR, named STAAR-L, was available beginning in spring 2012. STAAR-M is not available in Spanish.
Can a parent choose to have a student opt out of STAAR?
No. Parents may not have students opt out of any testing. While AISD and others might be empathetic to some of their feelings, by law there is no "opt out" for students. Please see the applicable law from the Texas Education Code pertaining to statewide accountability testing for your review and consideration:
Sec. 26.010. EXEMPTION FROM INSTRUCTION. (a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent's child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent's religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent's child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity. A parent is not entitled to remove the parent's child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test or to prevent the child from taking a subject for an entire semester. (b) This section does not exempt a child from satisfying grade level or graduation requirements in a manner acceptable to the school district and the agency. (Emphasis added.)
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What can parents do if they have concerns about their child taking STAAR?
AISD encourages parents who believe the standardized tests place undue pressure on their students to meet with their child's school counselor to develop solutions tailored to their child's needs.
(click on questions for answers)
What will be required for graduation?
To receive a diploma and to participate in graduation ceremonies, students must complete one of the Austin ISD's Distinguished, Recommended or Minimum graduation programs and meet passing requirements on the State of Texas Assessments.
Graduating class state testing requirements:
Students must meet minimum requirements on all required STAAR EOC exams and meet a satisfactory cumulative EOC passing score requirement (see below) in each of the four content areas of ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies.
Do the requirements differ according to the graduation plan?
Yes. Different levels of performance on English II and Algebra II EOC tests will be required for each of the three graduation plans (Minimum, Recommended and Distinguished).
Minimum: Meet cumulative score requirement based on the number of courses taken for which an end-of-course test exists. (Cumulative score requirement may vary by subject area.)
Recommended: Must take all 15 EOC exams. Meet cumulative score requirement in each of four core content areas, and perform at the Satisfactory Academic Performance level (Level II) on the Algebra II test and English III test.
Distinguished: Must take all 15 EOC exams. Meet cumulative score requirement in each of four core content areas, and perform at the Advanced Academic Performance level (Level III) on the Algebra II test and English III test.
When will the state's requirements regarding graduation go into effect?
The class of 2015 is the first class to undergo four years of EOC testing. Therefore, they are the first class required to fulfill the state's new graduation requirements. Students graduating before 2015 will continue to take TAKS.
Will high school students be allowed to retake STAAR EOC tests?
Yes. Students at the high school level will be able to retake any of the STAAR EOC assessments.
Will STAAR EOC replace AP exams?
No. Students taking Advanced Placement courses will be required to take both STAAR EOC and AP exams. AP exams are national exams tied to Advanced Placement courses. STAAR is tied to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and under state law, passage is required for graduation.
Can AP, IB, SAT, PSAT, the preliminary ACT, and Dual Credit scores be substituted for the STAAR EOC?
Not at the time of this publication. HB 3 (81st Texas Legislature, 2009) specifically called for research studies to be conducted to evaluate the relationship between student performance on the STAAR EOC assessments and student performance on tests at least as rigorous as the STAAR EOC assessments. Once all data is collected (collection began in the spring of 2012) and the analyses are complete, substitute assessment policies could go into effect for some assessments in the 2013-14 school year.
Will EOC assessment scores be used calculate students' grades?
To which students are we required to provide accelerated instruction?
State law requires school districts to provide accelerated instruction to each student who fails to perform satisfactorily on an EOC. Accelerated instruction must be provided to any student who does not perform at Level II or higher on the EOC.