Education News

New Assessment Program Set for Spring 2012

Students can expect big changes in state test next year.

Last April, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) advised administrators of the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™) program which will replace the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) beginning in spring 2012. The more rigorous STARR program will offer a foundation for a new accountability system for Texas public education.

One of the primary goals of the STAAR program is to increase the rigor of the assessments so that students have the academic knowledge and skills they need to meet the challenges of the 21st century, including career and job readiness.

Assessment Overview

In grades 3 – 8, the STARR program will assess the same subjects and grades that are currently assessed on TAKS. In high school, 12 grade-specific assessments would be replaced with 12 end-of-course (EOC) assessments. The STAAR program has new policies for dictionary and calculator use on the state assessments based on the new curriculum requirements. Additionally, embedded reference materials for math and science will be included in the test booklets. Other changes include time limits for testing. Students will have four hours to complete the test. Make up tests will also be allowed.

Specific changes from TAKS to STARR (based on TEA’s report)

STAAR is designed to better assess students’ academic achievement at all performance levels. STAAR will be more rigorous than TAKS in the following ways.

• STAAR assessments will assess content and skills from the TEKS at a greater depth and higher level of cognitive complexity.
• STAAR assessments will contain more items to facilitate the measurement of a student’s knowledge and skills at all performance levels.
• Some items will assess more than one student expectation from the TEKS, allowing skills to be tested in more integrated and authentic ways.
• STAAR assessments will focus on the student expectations that are necessary both for success in the current grade or course and for success in the next grade or course. Algebra II and English III will emphasize the student expectations that are necessary both for success in those courses and for postsecondary readiness.
• In writing, students will be required to respond to two writing tasks (personal narrative, literary, expository, persuasive, or analytic), rather than one writing task, as was required on TAKS.

• In science and mathematics assessments, the number of open-ended (griddable) items on most tests will increase. Griddable items are more rigorous because they require students to derive answers independently rather than to select a correct response from a list of possible responses.
• In grades 5 and 8 science, there will be an increased focus on promoting preparedness for high school science through an emphasis on the content and skills in grades 3–5 and 6–8 that link directly to the high school content standards for biology, chemistry, and physics.
• Performance standards will be set using empirical data gathered from studies that link year-to-year performance from grades 3–8 to high school and from specific courses (Algebra II and English III) to postsecondary readiness.
• Expectations for student performance on STAAR will be raised to achieve the goal of graduating students who are college and career ready.
• Performance standards will be reviewed at least once every three years and, if necessary, adjusted to ensure that the assessments maintain a high level of rigor.
• Empirical studies will be used to compare performance on STAAR with national and international norm-referenced assessments.

Read more on the TEA web site.

For a complete summary of House Bill 3,  click HERE.