Texas launched a new testing program called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness or STAAR® in 2012. It replaces the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). Information on this webpage is designed to provide basic information for reporters and school district communications staff members who will be writing and broadcasting stories about STAAR.
STAAR is given to students in grades 3-8 and to students taking high school level courses in the four core subject areas of English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The testing calendar shows the tests given and the dates they will be given.
Frequently asked questions
Brochures - Brochures, available in English and Spanish, provide basic information for parents about the general testing program and the End of Course assessments.
STAAR comparison chart - The STAAR is available in a variety of formats to serve students who are in the general education program, the special education program or who are English language learners. STAAR comparison chart (PDF)
How were the passing standards for the tests set? - A frequently asked questions document explains the standard setting process. The standards are being phased in.
What were the passing rates on the tests? Statewide and local test results for 2012 are now available.
STAAR vs. TAKS
Differences between STAAR and TAKS - STAAR is a more rigorous testing program. It emphasizes "readiness" standards, which are the knowledge and skills that are considered most important for success in the grade or course subject that follows and for college and career. STAAR will contain more test questions at most grades than did TAKS assessments. The high school assessments will move from grade-based tests to course-based exams. For the first time, the state's assessments will have a time limit. Students will have four hours to complete each exam.
Can we see the test?
STAAR is a secure test, so it is not available for review before it is given. Commissioner Michael L. Williams plans to release the 2013 STAAR exams in August. Available today are STAAR sample questions and samples of scored essays.The released sample questions are in the last column of the tables located on the STAAR Resources page. Writing scoring guides and rubrics are available as well.
Changes to the testing program
The Texas student testing program began in 1980 with the first administration of the Texas Assessment of Basic Skills. The testing program has expanded over the years due to federal and state requirements. STAAR represents the fifth generation of the testing program. Each new generation has been more rigorous than the one before it. Sample test questions (PDF, 566 KB) from the various state testing programs illustrate the increasing rigor of the program over the past three decades. A timeline details the changes to the program since its inception.
Testing calendar - Testing calendars for multiple years are available on the Student Assessment website.
Total number of mandatory testing days - Students will typically spend two to five days out of the 180-day school year taking the STAAR tests. Additional testing days will be available for students who must pass the test to be promoted to the next grade or to graduate from high school.
How do the number of testing days for students under STAAR compare to the number of testing days for students under TAKS?
The days allotted to STAAR testing are similar to testing days under previous assessment programs, including TAKS. Typically, high school students will have five testing days per year (one for reading, one for writing, one for mathematics, one for science, and one for social studies). Most students in grades 3–8 will have two to four testing days. This required testing should not be confused with a school’s maximum number of days allotted to test. Schools are given up to 45 scheduled days, or groups of days, to administer all the STAAR assessments. No student will test for 45 days. Few will test more than five days. Other days will be used for students required to retake a test, those that elect to retake a test, and those that are taking more than one course in a content area during the same school year. A chart showing the details of the testing days for students in elementary, middle, and high school can be found at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=2147503065&libID=2147503059 .
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