In December 2016, more than 600,000 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) end-of-course assessments were administered in our schools statewide during a five-day window. You may not have heard too much about that – and that’s a good thing.
If you rewind a year ago to my first few months as Commissioner of Education, you heard quite a bit about a variety of issues surrounding the December 2015 administration of STAAR. The State was transitioning to a new vendor that administered the tests – Educational Testing Service (ETS). However, that made little difference if you were among the students affected by one of those issues.
At the time, we made a commitment to our school districts to address those issues to prevent them from happening again. I’m happy to report that since experiencing those irregularities in the 2016 testing cycle, the Texas Education Agency has worked with ETS to correct any and all outstanding issues.
As always, the most recent test administration was a massive undertaking that required a lot of collaboration among educators, school district personnel and TEA staff. We remain committed to providing reliable and useful information to school districts, parents and taxpayers.
I’m encouraged by the continued improvement in the administration process. However, parents should know that the list of changes TEA has made to the STAAR program addresses multiple issues on multiple fronts. Among them:
- Shortening the grade 4 and grade 7 writing assessment to a one-day administration.
- Designing and implementing shorter test blueprints for the 2017 administration of STAAR in grades 3–8.
- Redesigning the three English end-of-course blueprints for the spring 2017 administration so that the reading sections no longer contain short answer questions.
- Incorporating changes to the Algebra I curriculum to correspond to the end-of-course assessment.
- STAAR A and STAAR L were administered for the final time in December of 2016. Beginning with the spring 2017 administration, the embedded supports that were available on these assessments are now individual embedded online accommodations on STAAR for eligible students. Information about these embedded supports and other accommodations, or Designated Supports, can be found on the Accommodation Resources webpage.
- Accommodations policies were revised so that more of the decisions regarding the appropriateness of an accommodation for an individual student are made at the local level. In most cases, accommodations eligibility widened significantly.
The next administration of STAAR is scheduled for March 2017. A complete schedule for the STAAR program can be found on TEA's Student Assessment Division website.
Commissioner Mike Morath
January 30, 2017