STAAR stands for State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The annual statewide tests make sure students learn everything they’re supposed to, according to the Texas curriculum. The Texas Education Agency implemented it in Spring 2012.
Who takes it?
Third through eighth-graders take the exams each year. There are also “end of course” assessments for certain topics in high school.
What’s being tested?
That depends on the grade.
- Grade 3 - mathematics, reading
- Grade 4 - mathematics, reading, writing
- Grade 5 - mathematics, reading, science
- Grade 6 - mathematics, reading
- Grade 7 - mathematics, reading, writing
- Grade 8 - mathematics, reading, science, social studies
High school end-of-course tests cover Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology, and U.S. History.
When are the tests?
The grade-level tests are administered in the spring (April and May). As for the end-of-course tests, those can be done as soon as the student finishes that particular class.
How is it graded?
The results are labeled “masters grade level,” “meets grade level,” “approaches grade level” or “did not meet grade level.”
Why does the STAAR test matter?
Fifth and eighth graders have to master, meet or approach grade level on their math and reading exams to move on to the next grade. High schoolers have to do the same for end-of-course tests in order to graduate.
What if a student doesn’t meet grade level?
The school has to provide what’s called “accelerated instruction” to those kids and let them retake the test.
If you have questions beyond these, the TEA has answers. It has a 19-page compilation of frequently asked questions on its website.