State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) suite of examinations was first introduced in 2012. The examinations replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) suite of examinations. Compared to TAKS, STAAR was designed to have more questions at a higher level of cognitive complexity, including a greater number of open-ended questions in mathematics and science and a greater emphasis on critical thinking in reading. STAAR was also designed to better harmonize with and assess the state educational standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
STAAR is the fifth generation of the state of Texas's student standardized testing program, which began in 1980 when the Texas Assessment of Basic Skills (TABS) was introduced. TABS was replaced with the Texas Educational Assessment of Minimum Skills (TEAMS) in 1986; TEAMS was replaced by the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) in 1990; and TAAS was replaced by TAKS in 2003. In general, major revisions to the standardized testing program have corresponded with changes in federal or state testing requirements.
Function of the Test
The STAAR examinations are standardized tests designed to measure students' academic progress against state standards. There are five versions of the STAAR assessments: STAAR, which is the normal version; STAAR Spanish, which is a Spanish-language version offered to eligible children in grades 3-5; STAAR L, which is a special form of the examination with linguistic accommodation for English language learners; STAAR Modified, which is a shorter, simplified examination format for children with disabilities; and STAAR Alternate, an alternative type of examination (not a traditional paper-and-pencil test) for children with significant cognitive disabilities.
STAAR examinations are given to children and teenagers in Texas many times throughout their educational careers. For younger children, reading and mathematics examinations are given annually in grades 3 through 8; writing examinations are given in grades 4 and 7; science examinations are given in grades 5 and 8; and a social studies examination is given in grade 8. In addition, as of 2015, there are end-of-course STAAR examination for the higher level courses of English I, English II, Algebra I, Biology, and U.S. History. In 2016, end-of-course examinations will be added for the subjects of English III and Algebra II.
Each STAAR examination places students at one of three levels of performance. Level I is unsatisfactory academic performance; Level II is satisfactory academic performance; and Level III is advanced academic performance. In 2014,  Statistics of statewide student performance are available for each STAAR examination on TEA's website. For example, in fall 2014, of the 131,994 students who took the English I examination, 48% scored at Level I (unsatisfactory), 52% scored at Level II (satisfactory), and fewer than 1% scored at Level III (advanced).
STAAR examinations are administered in school during normal school hours. There is no fee for taking the examinations. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reports that children typically spend two to five days per school year completing the examinations. Each individual STAAR subject test has a four-hour time limit, with the exception of English I and English II, which have five-hour time limits. Make-up sessions may be administered to students who miss certain exams.
There is a comprehensive system of testing accommodations for students with disabilities or special needs, including accommodations such as a braille examination, oral or signed exam administration, large print, extra time, and so on. Additionally, linguistic accommodations exist for English language learners, especially for young Spanish-speaking children. According to TEA, each school has a team of professionals who identify students with special needs and provide any necessary accommodations. For major accommodations (such as an extra day of testing) which require approval from the state, the team submits accommodation requests to TEA on the students' behalf.
The Texas STAAR exam series has tests that have to do with Mathematics and Reading, Writing, Science, and Social Studies. Tests vary from subject to subject, but are usually made up of multiple choice questions as well as a few free answer/grid-in questions.
STAAR tests typically take place at the school in which the student attends. Depending on which test is being taken, a calculator may or may not be allowed. For Grade 8 Mathematics, a graphing calculator is required for the test. There are a few other tests where a calculator is allowed, such as the Algebra I and Biology exam. Almost all of the tests are only available in paper and pencil format, however, a version of STAAR tests are offered as a standardized oral administrated test.
- TEA - STAAR Resources April 21 2015
- TEA - Overview of State Assessment Program April 21 2015
- TEA - STAAR Media Toolkit April 21 2015
- TEA - Historical Overview of Assessment in Texas April 21 2015
- TEA - STAAR Assessments Comparison Chart for the 2012-2013 School Year April 21 2015
- TEA - STAAR Level II Phase-In Summary Report April 21 2015
- TEA - STAAR Statewide Summary Reports April 21 2015
- TEA - STAAR Summary Report - English I, Fall 2014 April 21 2015
- TEA - Calendar of Events - 2015 Testing April 21 2015
- TEA - 2015 Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Taking State Assessments April 21 2015
- TEA - Accommodation Resources April 21 2015
- STAAR Tests 28 April 2015
- FAQ 28 April 2015