Calculators for the STAAR Grade 8 Mathematics

Word Version

February 10, 2014

TO THE SUPERINTENDENT ADDRESSED:

SUBJECT:  Calculators for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Grade 8 Mathematics

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will be implementing the new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for grades 3–8 mathematics in the STAAR program beginning in the 2014–2015 school year. The new TEKS for grade 8 mathematics focus on algebra readiness skills that require graphing technology. In addition, areas of emphasis in the new grade 8 curriculum include proportionality, expressions, equations, relationships, and functions. The significant increase in algebra content in the grade 8 TEKS dictates the use of graphing calculators not only in classroom instruction but also on the assessment. For these reasons, TEA is revising the testing calculator policy to require graphing calculators on the STAAR grade 8 mathematics assessment.

Allowing direct access to calculators on the STAAR grade 8 mathematics assessment will provide students with the opportunity to better demonstrate both their knowledge and their ability to apply the content. Changing the calculator policy to allow use during this assessment supports the close alignment of assessment with curriculum and instruction. In addition, expanded calculator use in curriculum, instruction, and assessment will support college and career readiness; 21st century skills; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiatives. Furthermore, educators, including mathematics teachers and administrators, support the use of calculators as a tool for grade 8 mathematics.

New STAAR Policy:    Beginning in the 2014–2015 school year, districts must ensure that each student has a handheld graphing calculator to use when taking the STAAR grade 8 mathematics assessment.

Districts will be required to have a sufficient supply of calculators available so that each student has access to a calculator, not only on the day of testing but also for routine class work. This policy is aligned with and supports the TEKS by ensuring that all students in grade 8 mathematics classes have access to calculators. This new calculator requirement is the same as the STAAR Algebra I calculator requirement.

Many school districts have already begun the budgeting process for future school years. In planning district budgets, please be aware that the instructional materials allotment can be used for calculator purchases to support this new policy.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the success of Texas students. 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/jg

cc: District Testing Coordinator