SUBJECT: REVISED Calculator Policy for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness
(STAAR) Grade 8 Mathematics in 2014-2015 School Year
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.
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.
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 with either
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Commissioner of Education
cc: District Testing