February 10, 2012


Dear Key Communicators:


This is the second in a series of four messages about the upcoming State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). I hope to answers some common questions about the tests that we will begin administering next month. As I mentioned in my last message, one of the primary goals of the STAAR program is to ensure students have the academic knowledge and skills they need to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to be college and career ready.


What is new about these tests?


  • More focus. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has defined a set of readiness standards that are necessary both for success in the current grade or course and for preparedness in the next grade or course. These readiness standards will be emphasized annually in the STAAR assessments.
  • More clarity. TEA has provided educators with information about each assessment to clearly identify readiness and supporting standards, communicated the relationship between the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and the STAAR assessment program, explained the role of readiness and supporting standards on the tests, and provided sample items from the new assessments.
  • More depth. In order for STAAR to focus on preparedness for student success in subsequent grades and courses, and ultimately in college and/or a career, the tests increase in length at most grades and subjects, and overall test difficulty will be increased. In addition, STAAR requires a higher level of student performance than the current TAKS assessments.


Will students have multiple opportunities to meet the passing standards on STAAR?


  • High school students who must meet testing requirements to earn a diploma will have additional retesting days available if needed.
  • Students in fifth and eighth grade will have additional testing opportunities in the 2012-2013 school year and beyond.
  • STAAR will involve additional testing days.


What tests will elementary students take?


  • 3rd grade Mathematics and Reading
  • 4th grade Mathematics, Reading and Writing
  • 5th grade Mathematics, Reading and Science


What tests will middle school students take?


6th grade Mathematics and Reading

7th grade Mathematics, Reading and Writing

8th grade Mathematics, Reading, Social Studies and Science


What tests will high school students take?

Beginning this spring, first-time or new ninth-graders (and middle school students taking high school courses) will begin taking 12 end-of-course (EOC) exams that will count 15% of the final grade and be required for graduation:


  • Math: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II
  • Science: Biology, Chemistry, Physics
  • English Language Arts: English I, English II, English III
  • Social Studies: World Geography, World History, U.S. History


What tests will special population students take?

STAAR will include additional test formats to accommodate special education students and English Language Learners:


  • STAAR Modified
  • STAAR Alternate
  • STAAR L (linguistically accommodated)


Our teachers and our students have been working hard to get ready for these new assessments, and I am confident that we will be adequately prepared for the increased rigors and standards of the new STAAR-which will be the focus of my next message. Thank you for your continued support and for helping spread the word about Alief ISD.



HD Chambers

Superintendent of Schools