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The 411: Youth

Breaking down the STAAR test

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Junior Journalists
April 10, 2013 | 2,441 views | 13 comments

By Alyssa Alsobrook

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test in the spring of 2012. At grades 3-8 the STAAR will test the same subjects and grades that were done in TAKS. However, in high school there will be 12 end-of-course (EOC) assessments: Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, biology, chemistry, physics, English I, English II, English III, world geography, world history, and U.S. history. Basically what this entails is that a child, from third grade through 11th grade, would be required to take 45 total tests in order to graduate. My first impression of this is how ludicrous is that to expect students to take 45 tests over the course of elementary, junior high, and high school?

On the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website you are able to learn everything about the STAAR testing and even see some samples of the test material. It also has a flow chart to tell how the students would be placed in terms of graduation. There are two levels, II and III. If met, the level II students will graduate Recommended. If the student does not exceed that he/she can graduate Minimum. Others have an opportunity to graduate Distinguished by also meeting or exceeding level III. It is my understanding, however, that after last year’s STAAR testing the Senate and House of Representatives have gone back to the drawing board due to the many glitches in the current testing. Many proposals including House Bill 5 and Senate Bill 3 are being looked at by the Legislature right now. The bills will possibly change how many tests would be given in limited courses in order to graduate.

“The most significant changes to the assessment program include increasing the difficulty of both the tests state and the standards for all grades, subjects, and courses; changing high school assessments from grade-based to course-based, making postsecondary-readiness performance standards for Algebra II and English II, and using empirical validation studies as part of the standard-setting process to ensure that performance standards are linked from grade to grade and are also linked to external evidence of postsecondary readiness” (

The total number of test items for the STAAR assessments has been increased for most grades, subjects, and courses, and a four-hour time limit was imposed. This is a great change from the TAKS where the children were not rushed by a time limit. STAAR tests in mathematics and reading will be linked from grade to grade as well as to postsecondary-readiness standards for the Algebra II and English III. STAAR has been designed to focus on “readiness” standards, which are defined by the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). In addition, STAAR is made to better measure the academic performance of students as they progress through their school years, and each EOC assessment will cover only a particular course (Algebra I will assess only Algebra I content) rather than have questions from multiple courses that were learned in earlier years (Algebra I and grade 8 mathematics were assessed on the TAKS grade 9 mathematics tests). STAAR writing assessments at grades 4 and 7 will be extended to two days. STAAR EOC assessments for English I, II, and III will be tested for two days, with the writing portion on day one and the reading on the other ( These changes and a couple of others are a great wake-up call to everyone, including the teachers.

When asked by the students if they thought this was better than TAKS, their reply was no. One student said, “It’s more tests and they are harder, also the teachers are more focused on teaching just the EOC than they were when we took TAKS.” And when you look at the facts, yes, the STAAR is way more complicated and as a person who has taken sample tests of them I can say firsthand that these tests are different and in some ways harder than the TAKS. It just seems that students are “tested to death” these days. With all the tests the children have to take, will we be a society of “testers” or will the state let us go back and have some breathing room to be able to enjoy what the teachers have to offer us?

Junior Journalist Alyssa Alsobrook is a Stockdale High School junior. A member of the FFA, she plays golf and plans to study to become a physical therapist after high school. Alyssa is the daughter of Scott and Sandra Alsobrook; she has a half-sister, Brittany.

Your Opinions and Comments

The Marcelina Muse  
Dry Tank, TX  
May 9, 2013 10:56am
Is "Facts only please" what we used to refer to as a "fourth degree dumbass"?

Facts only please  
May 9, 2013 8:34am
Beji: I figure you need help on this subject. Try reading this article from a well known university.

Facts only please  
May 9, 2013 8:29am
Beji: The facts are facts. Spend some time to look up what plagiarism is and how to properly cite other author's works. Who cares about me and what I may or may not have, it is not about me, just the facts.

Beji Amhoudi  
La Vernia  
May 9, 2013 6:11am
Considering the entire body of contributions from Facts, I find it humorous that Facts claims to have 4 degrees and teaches at the collegiate level.. or that others just accepted it as 'fact' in a forum where everything is ... More ›

May 9, 2013 5:25am
Newguyntown. About....Facts Only Please....Maybe that old saying "Those that can't, teach." applies. I have no idea who to cite as a source for that saying. I plead guilty to plagiarism. :) I guess that I could ... More ›

May 8, 2013 4:56pm
Facts only Please.....You neglected to identify the portion of the article that you referenced. Do you attribute that to an incomplete education or to just being absent minded ? I will pay closer attention to your comments ... More ›

Fatima Ortiz  
May 8, 2013 4:21pm
I am a life skills teacher and my students have different disabilities and yet are required to take the STAAR-ALT. A more hands on and indivilualized assessement. However, the test has become overwhelming, making 6th graders ... More ›

May 8, 2013 3:57pm
" facts only" seems to be the perfect example of todays college professors....with four degrees you are doing society a disservice by limiting yourself to the academic arena. Nan, by the way, great response.

Facts only please  
May 8, 2013 1:26pm
PRAIRIE/Editor: I only used the second paragraph to check for plagiarism. Alyssa did not cite anything in this paragraph other than someone should go to a website and thus plagiarised from someone's else written article. ... More ›

Nannette Kilbey-Smith, Editor  
May 8, 2013 12:10pm
Thank you, Prairie Grouch. You are correct in that Alyssa cited her source and properly attributed the TEA site, using some quotes. Facts Only, thank you for your discerning eye, that noted much of the article relies on material ... More ›

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