REVISED Calculator Policy for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Grade 8 Mathematics in 2014-2015 School Year

 
Word Version

 

March 20, 2014 

  

TO THE SUPERINTENDENT ADDRESSED: 

SUBJECT:  REVISED Calculator Policy for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Grade 8 Mathematics in 2014-2015 School Year

After extensive feedback from superintendents across our state coupled with conversations with agency staff, I am revising the calculator policy for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) grade 8 mathematics assessment for the 2014-2015 school year.

On February 10, 2014, the Texas Education Agency posted notice that the testing calculator policy requires handheld graphing calculators on the STAAR grade 8 mathematics test beginning in 2014-2015. Calculators are now necessary for this assessment because the State Board of Education significantly increased the algebra content in the grade 8 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) requiring the use of graphing calculators not only in classroom instruction but also on the assessment.

While graphing calculators are required for the STAAR grade 8 mathematics test, I am allowing districts to meet the calculator requirement for the STAAR grade 8 mathematics test witheither a traditional handheld graphing calculator or a graphing calculator application available on a tablet on a pilot basis for the 2014-2015 school year.

REVISED STAAR Grade 8 Mathematics Calculator Policy


In the 2014–2015 school year, school districts and charters must ensure that each student has a graphing calculator to use when taking the STAAR grade 8 mathematics assessment. On a pilot basis for the 2014-2015 school year, I will allow districts to satisfy this requirement with either a traditional handheld graphing calculator or a graphing calculator application available on a tablet.

To ensure an appropriate match between instruction and assessment, districts will be required to have a sufficient supply of calculators available so that each student has access to the calculator or tablet - not only on the day of testing, but also for routine class work.

Additional Information

  • This pilot applies to the STAAR grade 8 mathematics assessment for 2014-2015 only.
  • There is no requirement to apply or notify the agency of participation in the pilot, but districts choosing to do so must comply with additional security measures to be announced in the future.
  • For the pilot year, the policy will still prohibit the use of smart phones. There are a number of questions remaining about new test security procedures that can be put in place to accommodate devices other than a handheld graphing calculator.  
  • I continue to have concerns about ensuring test security and preventing cheating. For districts that choose to use technology other than a handheld graphing calculator, there will likely be additional test monitoring and security measures put in place to ensure that the integrity of the test is not compromised
  • Depending on the success of the pilot (especially as it relates to test security and any confirmed testing irregularities), I will make decisions about either continuing and possibly expanding the use of additional technologies or prohibiting their use moving forward. The future viability of technology like this during state assessments will largely depend on the success, vigilance, and integrity within your districts.
  • Districts may elect to have students use a graphing calculator application on a tablet or other mobile device during routine classroom instruction and homework, with an actual graphing calculator available for use during the assessment. In these instances, the calculator application should have the same functionality as the calculator to be used on the state assessment to ensure that students are familiar with the calculator. However, students are not required to use the exact same tool during routine class work or homework and the state assessment.
  • Routine classroom instruction should include sufficient time during the school day for a teacher to teach and students to learn the skills required in the TEKS. Instruction should include time for students to become comfortable with the use of a calculator, including the calculator that will be used on the state assessment.

Districts that choose to meet the calculator requirement for the grade 8 mathematics test using technology (other than a handheld graphing calculator) should know that all other major standardized tests – including the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment, PSAT, SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement (AP) exams – do not permit the use of calculator applications on tablets, smart phones, or other electronic devices. Consequently, districts may want to keep in mind the policies their students will need to follow for these tests when deciding which technology to use for classroom instruction.

While I recognize this revised policy will not address all concerns and may still require some districts to purchase additional technology, I am hopeful this policy will enable us to provide some flexibility. The new K-8 mathematics TEKS your teachers will begin teaching in 2014-2015 are significantly different than prior versions, requiring more advanced concepts to be taught in earlier grades. Accordingly, the STAAR assessments for mathematics will be dramatically different beginning in spring 2015.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the success of Texas students and for your meaningful feedback. If you have questions regarding the STAAR program, please call the Student Assessment Division at 512-463-9536. If you have questions regarding the new TEKS for mathematics, call the Curriculum Division at 512-463-9581.

Sincerely,


Michael Williams

Commissioner of Education

 

MW/rf

 

cc: District Testing Coordinator

 

 

Page last modified on 3/20/2014 11:11:38 AM.