Implementation of New Student Assessment Contracts

Word Version

August 19, 2015

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:

SUBJECT: Implementation of New Student Assessment Contracts

The purpose of this email is to provide information about the implementation of the student assessment contracts.

AWARD OF 2015–2019 STUDENT ASSESSMENT CONTRACTS
On May 18, 2015, the Texas Education Agency announced its intent to award the various components of the 2015–2019 contract for student assessment services to two separate contractors.

Educational Testing Service (ETS) was awarded the Program Integration and State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) components of the contract. The Program Integration component includes coordinating all activities associated with the student assessment program. The STAAR component incorporates all testing activities related to the general STAAR grades 3–8 and end-of-course (EOC) assessments as well as STAAR Spanish, STAAR L, and STAAR A assessments.

Pearson was awarded the STAAR Alternate 2, Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS), and Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) components of the contract.   

As a result of the awards, beginning in the 2015–2016 school year, there will be some changes to the processes associated with the student assessment program as the contractors launch/update their test management and online testing platforms to meet the overall needs of the program.   

TEST MANAGEMENT PLATFORMS
The current test management system, the Texas Assessment Management System (TAMS), delivered via PearsonAccess, will remain operational for the STAAR program, as outlined below. Districts and Education Service Centers (ESCs) can use TAMS during this time to complete the following activities.

•    Submit participation counts for the December 2015 STAAR EOC test administrations: August 19th through September 4th.
•    Make changes/corrections to student information and test-administration information: Now through September 18th.
•    Submit STAAR Student Information Retrieval System (SIRS) requests: August 19th   through September 18th.
•    View and retrieve 2015 STAAR grades 3–8 reports and data files with mathematics scale scores and performance standards applied: Date posted through September 25th.  
•    Look up student scores through TAMS or the Student/Parent Portal: Now through September 18th.
•    Retrieve any previous STAAR grades 3–8 and EOC reports and data files: Now through September 18th.

From September 19th–27th, STAAR grades 3–8 and EOC data will be transferred from Pearson to ETS. During this period of time, districts should not make changes/corrections to student information and test-administration information, and STAAR grades 3–8 and EOC reports and data files will be unavailable. The current version of TAMS will still be available for all test-administration activities related to STAAR Alternate 2, TELPAS, and TAKS through mid-October.

Beginning on September 28th, ETS’s test management platform, the Test Operation Management System (TOMS), will be available for all STAAR grades 3–8 and EOC testing activities.

On October 12, 2015, Pearson’s updated test management platform, PearsonAccess Next, will be launched for all STAAR Alternate 2, TELPAS, and TAKS activities (with the exception of the October TAKS exit level test administration).
 
Once the new test management platforms have been launched, they will be accessible at http://www.texasassessment.com. This internet address will also contain links to the current version of TAMS (for TAKS through January 2016), the Texas Data Portals, and the new TELPAS Teacher Training System when these new systems become available.

OCTOBER 2015 TAKS EXIT LEVEL TEST ADMINISTRATION
All activities related to the October 2015 TAKS exit level test administration will remain unchanged from previous TAKS test administrations and will be managed through the current version of TAMS.

DECEMBER 2015 STAAR EOC TEST ADMINISTRATION
The December 2015 STAAR EOC assessments will be administered in paper format only. Therefore, there will be no registration for online testing for this administration. Beginning in spring 2016, all EOC administrations will be offered both online and on paper.

Participation collections for the December 2015 administration will be managed in the current version of TAMS and will begin on August 19th and end on September 4th. This participation collection will differ from previous submissions in that districts will be asked to update counts for STAAR L and STAAR A for delivery in paper format only.   
 
Pearson will provide ETS with a file of STAAR EOC non-masters so that the file can be loaded onto ETS’s test management platform. These non-masters are STAAR, STAAR L, and STAAR A students for whom a document was submitted in spring or summer 2015 and who did not pass one or more of the EOC assessments. Beginning September 28th, districts will be able to add students or update information for non-master students through ETS's test management platform.
A supplement to the 2015 District and Campus Coordinator Manual will be available online by November 15, 2015, and will outline new processes and procedures for the paper-only administration of the December 2015 STAAR EOC assessments.

MATERIALS, TRAININGS, AND COMMUNICATIONS
TEA will be hosting two Texas Education Telecommunications Network (TETN) meetings on August 26th and 28th to discuss the transition of the STAAR grades 3–8 and EOC programs to a new vendor. Both sessions will be identical in content.

Online training materials and modules will be available for the new test management platforms beginning September 28th. These materials and modules will be accessible at http://www.texasassessment.com.

In addition, both ETS and Pearson will be offering a series of webinars and face-to-face trainings in the fall to make district and ESC staff familiar with the new systems. Districts and ESCs will be notified of the dates for these sessions once they have been set.

DISTRICT AND ESC STAFF CONTACTS
Please see the contacts and dates outlined below for questions concerning the state assessment program.
•    Prior to September 28th, contact the Pearson Austin Operations Center at 800-627-0225 for all questions related to the student assessment program.
•    Beginning September 28th, contact ETS at 855-333-7770 for all questions regarding the STAAR grades 3–8 and EOC programs.
•    Beginning September 28th, contact the Pearson Austin Operations Center at 800-627-0225 for all questions related to the STAAR Alternate 2, TELPAS, and TAKS programs.

Assessment Contact Information
Texas Education Agency
Department of Assessment and Accountability, Criss Cloudt, Associate Commissioner
Student Assessment Division, Gloria Zyskowski, Director
512-463-9536
student.assessment@tea.texas.gov