The STAAR test in Texas is something all parents should become familiar with as they move to the Lone Star State.
The STARR is the standardized test the state uses to gauge performance of students between third and twelfth grades.
Through information on the Texas Education Agency’s website, here’s an overview of what you need to know about:
1. What’s the point of STAAR tests?
TEA says the tests exist so that each student can be measured and that a process exists to determine if they are ready to move on to the next grade.
State funding for schools is not tied to how a school performs on their STAAR tests. School districts get money based on the number of students they have enrolled not how students do on the STAAR.
2. This is the schedule for the test by grade level
The topics depend on the grade that the student is in, so for example:
Mathematics and reading — grades 3–8
Science — grades 5 and 8
Social studies — grade 8
To graduate high school, high school students take what is called “end‐of‐course assessments” in areas like Algebra, English, biology, and U.S. History.
3. What you should know about the scores
There are two scores that students will receive — scale and raw.
Raw: This is the total number of answers that a student gets correct on the test.
Scale: This takes the questions the student got correct and considers things like how challenging the question was. The scale is what provides a student their actual score.
You can learn more about the state’s scoring system here.
4. Tests are provided in the spring
For students in grades third through eighth, the tests are held toward the end of the school year, usually April or May. Students that are taking end-of-course assessments will take them all year long in an effort to get children ready for the actual tests. TEA says that parents should expect their children to take up to four testings days in a school year.
5. There are time limits
Five-hour: There are only two tests that have two-hour limits and that’s the English I and II test.
Four-hour: All of the other tests have four-hour windows.
Other: There are other time limits provided for those who have special needs or require unique accommodations. All of those are coordinated ahead of time with schools.
6. The tests are given in a student’s classroom
Students are able to take tests in their own classroom. During the week of STAAR tests campuses are often closed to parents and other activities sometimes are put on pause. Students who have special needs may take the test in different locations in the school.
7. Parents can do these things to help their students
TEA has a list of things parents can do to get their child ready for the test:
Have regular teacher meetings to discuss goals
Review sample STAAR questions and tests available
Practice at home with free online tutorials and learning tools
Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep the night before test day