Your Child and the State of Texas Academic Assessments of Readiness (STAAR)

If you have a child enrolled in the public school system in San Antonio (or Texas), then you know of the STAAR test. The state of Texas formerly utilized TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills); however, in the 2011-2012 school year, they changed TAKS and implemented the STAAR test in order to have more content and coverage of the skills students were learning in the classroom. This state test is an academic readiness testing system that is designed to assess students and measure their knowledge and skills on the state-mandated curriculum that is taught universally in Texas public schools.

The STAAR test does not begin testing students until they reach the third grade. In grades 3-8, students will be tested in math and reading. Students are required to take the exam, and in grades five and eight they must pass to move onto the next grade level. Once they move into high school, the STAAR test will become an “end-of-course” exam for Algebra I, English I, English II, biology, and US history. For the end-of-course exams, students must pass or they risk repeating a course the next year or possibly not graduating.  For students who do not pass, there are supplementary classes that they may take during school hours to better prepare them for the test. 

The assessment is given during the spring, with retest options in the summer and fall, ultimately giving students three opportunities to test each year. Public schools do an excellent job of ensuring that students are well prepared for the test and are able to meet the passing level or exceed it. There are released test questions for every subject and grade level online if you are interested in learning more about the content and the format of the different tests. Many teachers use these released questions as a part of their curriculum to prepare students for the exam.

The state’s hope with the STAAR test is that students will be held accountable for the knowledge that they learn during school and that they can build upon retain those skills as they transition from grade to grade. The state also strives to be one of the top 10 states for graduating college and career-ready students by the 2019-2020 school year. These curriculum standards for STAAR integrate these college readiness and career-ready skills, making sure that everything is vertically aligned all the way down to elementary school.

Overall, the standards of the test are essential for success in school and outside of school. As opposed to the TAKS, STAAR claims to have test material and questions that drive a deeper knowledge and require more of an understanding of skills from students. While the test is still relatively young, success/passing rates from students are on target for the state’s goals. Of course, the test is very dependent upon the school district in which your child is enrolled. For more information on your child’s specific district and school, you can visit the district’s website and look at the released reports. 

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