The Lone Star State is known for doing things on a big scale, and Texas certainly didn't make an exception when it came to pioneering standardized testing.
Indeed, Texas has historically been a trailblazer in this area, as it is sometimes cited as the birthplace of high-stakes testing. At one point in time, it was reported that Texas public school students took more tests than students in any other state in the U.S. For a while the main group of standardized tests were collectively known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), but in spring 2012 these tests were superseded by the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR.
Here are some things about the STAAR that you may not know:
1. Expanding Subject Areas
It looks like subject areas assessed by STAAR may be expanding. So far, STAAR has covered a wide array of reading, math, science and social studies assessments along with tests for biology, English I and II, Algebra I, and U.S. history.
However, there will be new, higher-level assessments starting in 2016, voluntarily administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). These new STAAR assessments will cover English III and Algebra II.
2. The High Quality of TEKS Standards
Texas has very high standards, to which the STAAR assessment items are aligned. Every question found in the STAAR tests are based on learning benchmarks found in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), which is Texas's state-mandated curriculum. These student expectations can be viewed on the TEA's official website.
3. Where to Find High Quality, Highly Actionable Resources to Help Students Prepare Next Year
Uncertain about the Writing and English I, II, and III components of STAAR? Not sure what to expect on the writing portions of the test?
Fear not, for the TEA will gladly provide you with a bevy of online resources, including rubrics, scoring guides, and examples of "response boxes" for these test items. These resources are freely available and downloadable on the web in PDF format.
4. The Number of Test Days Has Increased
STAAR testing has had the effect of increasing the overall number of testing days for students. STAAR also has had the effect of increasing the number of questions per test compared to the TAKS.
5. STAAR To Be Mandatory for Advancement
In the coming school year, most high school student in Texas's public schools will need to pass the STAAR assessments to move forward. This is because students who were first enrolled in 9th grade in the 2011-2012 school year or later years will be subject to the requirements of STAAR testing in order to graduate. Students enrolled previous to this time frame will instead be subject to TAKS graduation requirements.
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About the Author
David Moadel is in his third decade working in education. He has taught, mentored, and inspired students from elementary age through adult. David has earned his master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the American College of Education, and is currently a certified teacher in Florida. David enjoys teaching, writing, and utilizing technology tools to communicate with people with diverse viewpoints across the globe.