If you live in Texas and you have a child in a public or charter school, then you are well aware that STAAR season is upon us. Wether you are a first time STAAR parent or you are in your last season, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the testing process and sometimes it helps to hear someone explain some of the basics. Over the next few weeks, I will be covering information about the STAAR test and how it relates to students with learning disabilities.

I thought the best way to start was to actually define what the STAAR test is……..

The STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) is the fifth generation of Texas’ student testing program, which began in 1980 with the Texas Assessment of Basic Skills and has expanded over time due to federal and state requirements. Student testing is a major part of Texas’ public school accountability system. STAAR was launched in 2012 and replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).

STAAR is given to students in grades 3-8 and to students taking high school level courses in Algebra I, English I and II, US History, and Biology.

STAAR is a more rigorous testing program than TAKS. STAAR emphasizes “readiness” skills which are the knowledge and skills that are considered most important for success in the grade or course subject that follows. So really, it’s a test to find out if your child has the skills needed to move on to the next grade or class.

It is interesting to know that student growth on state standardized tests are a significant factor (at least 20 percent) in determining a teacher’s or principal’s summative evaluation rating through the statewide teacher evaluation system.

In addition, a school’s academic accountability rating, that is provided by the state, is largely based on the performance of it’s students on state standardized tests and graduation rates. If a campus is rated as “Improvement Required” (IR) due to low performance, then an intervention plan is put in place.