(8/21/14) from the Commissioner of Education regarding the elimination of the
State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) Modified; the
availability of the online accommodated version of the general STAAR assessment,
called STAAR A; and implementation of the redesigned STAAR Alternate
assessment, known as STAAR Alternate 2, provides an important opportunity for
school districts to assure their admission, review, and dismissal (ARD)
committees carefully consider participation requirements when making decisions
about the appropriate assessment for students receiving special education
services. This assurance at the district
level is also important given trends the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has
observed over the last several years in meeting its obligation under federal
law to evaluate districts’ use of alternative assessments.
During the former
assessment system, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS),
districts initially reported fairly moderate rates of participation in TAKS-Alternate
and TAKS-Modified by students receiving special education services. However, shortly
before the TAKS assessments were phased out, some districts began to report significant
increases in the rates of participation in both of these alternative assessments.
These increases were particularly evident in two special education
participation rate indicators reported through the Performance-Based Monitoring
Analysis System (PBMAS). By the third year of the STAAR program, the state rate
of students participating in the STAAR Alternate was nearly twice the rate of
students participating in the TAKS-Alternate six years earlier, and the state rate
of students participating in the STAAR Modified was approximately one-third higher.
Districts subsequently evaluated by TEA monitors for their students’
participation in the STAAR Alternate or STAAR Modified were not always able to
provide documented evidence in students’ individualized education programs
(IEPs) that the students’ present levels of academic achievement and functional
performance, annual goals, and prerequisite skills or modified curriculum
justified the administration of an alternative assessment.
As planning for the administration
of the 2014-2015 state assessments begins, districts must ensure their ARD
committees are aware that students can only be assessed with the redesigned
alternate assessment, STAAR Alternate 2, if they meet ALL of the following
participation requirements. The student must:
a significant cognitive disability;
specialized supports to access the grade-level curriculum;
intensive, individualized instruction; and
the grade-level Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) through
Students not meeting the
STAAR Alternate 2 participation requirements must be assessed with the general
STAAR or STAAR A, as appropriate. Students requiring a higher degree of
accommodation than what is allowable on the general STAAR must be students:
identified disabilities who are receiving special education services; or
with dyslexia or a related disorder (as defined in Texas Education Code
§38.003) who are receiving Section 504 services.
Additionally, the ARD or
504 committee must document that any student being considered for STAAR A
participation routinely uses at least two separate accommodations aligned to
those available on STAAR A during regular classroom instruction and assessment.
Districts must ensure that
the IEP of each student whose ARD committee determines the student will not
take the general STAAR or STAAR A includes a clear statement of why the student
cannot participate in these assessments and why the alternate assessment
selected is appropriate. Districts must also ensure they complete any forms
required by TEA to document a student’s eligibility for a particular
you have questions regarding the STAAR program, please call the Student
Assessment Division at 512-463-9536.
you have questions regarding appropriate documentation in students’ IEPs to
substantiate assessment participation determinations, please call the Program
Monitoring and Interventions Division at 512-463-5226.
of Assessment and Accountability, Criss Cloudt, Associate Commissioner
Assessment Division, Gloria Zyskowski, Director
Monitoring Contact Information
of Accreditation and School Improvement, Sally Partridge, Associate
Monitoring and Interventions Division, Michael Greenwalt, Director