The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™) replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) starting in the 2011-2012 school year. STAAR evaluates a student's knowledge of the state curriculum standards, known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). STAAR includes assessments in the following grades and subjects at the middle school level:
6th – Mathematics and Reading
7th – Mathematics, Reading and Writing
8th – Mathematics, Reading, Social Studies and Science
What’s different about STAAR™?
STAAR includes more difficult testing and requires a higher level of student performance. Assessments increase in length at most grades and subjects. There is also a four-hour time limit for the STAAR grades 3–8 assessments and the STAAR EOC assessments.
For reading, greater emphasis is placed on critical analysis of passages rather than literal understanding. The grade 7 writing test includes three compositions: personal narrative that has a clearly defined focus and communicates the importance of or reasons for actions and/or consequences
and multi-paragraph essay to convey information about a topic (also referred to as expository). (More information about the writing test can be found in the related video on the right.)
On the science and mathematics tests, STAAR includes a type of open-ended question known as a griddable item. The purpose of griddable items is to allow students to develop answers independently without being influenced by answer choices provided with the questions (commonly known as multiple-choice). Most science and mathematics assessments include three to five griddable items. Illustrations of the test design for grades 3-8
and further explanation about griddable items
are available at www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/.
How is performance measured on STAAR™?
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has established a phase-in approach for STAAR performance standards that will increase over time. On August 21, 2014, the Commissioner of Education informed districts that the initial academic performance standards, known as Phase-in 1, will continue for the 2014-2015 school year. Phase-in 1 has been used since STAAR was implemented to allow students and schools to adjust to the new testing system.
TEA plans to implement Phase-in 2 performance standards in the 2015-2016 school year, and Phase-in 3 performance standards will be implemented beginning in the 2018–2019 school year. The final recommended performance standards will be implemented in the 2021–2022 school year. Read the TEA press release on STAAR performance standards.
Revised mathematics TEKS are being implemented during the 2014-2015 school years in grades kindergarten through 8. Therefore, performance standards for STAAR grades 3-8 mathematics exams will not be established until after the spring administration. Read the TEA press release about the mathematics requirement.
How does STAAR™ affect promotion to the next grade level?
The Student Success Initiative (SSI) requirement for grades 5 and 8 mandates students pass the STAAR math and reading tests in order to be promoted to the next grade level. However, TEA has suspended the SSI requirement for the math tests in the 2014-2015 school year due to revised state curriculum standards. According to a TEA press release, "State law requiring students in grades 5 and 8 to pass the STAAR reading exam in order to proceed to the next grade level will still be in effect." Read the TEA press release about the mathematics requirement.
Districts will be required to provide remediation to any student who fails a STAAR assessment, whether in grades 3-8 or high school.
How does STAAR™ affect middle school students enrolled in a high-school level course (e.g. Algebra I)?
Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, middle school students enrolled in high school-level courses will be required to take the corresponding end-of-course (EOC) assessment.(Please visit the high school section for more information about EOC assessments.)
Middle school students who completed a high school level course prior to Spring 2012, such as a seventh-grader who took Algebra I during 2010-2011, would not be required to take the corresponding EOC assessment.