STAAR will include more difficult testing and require a higher level of student performance. Assessments will increase in length at most grades and subjects. There will also be a four-hour time limit for the STAAR grades 3-8 assessments and the STAAR EOC assessments.
For reading, greater emphasis will be placed on critical analysis of passages rather than literal understanding. The 7th grade writing test will include two compositions: a personal narrative that has a clearly defined focus and communicates the importance of or reasons for actions and/or consequences and a multi-paragraph essay to convey information about a topic (also referred to as expository).
On the science and mathematics tests, STAAR will include 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 will include three to five griddable items. Illustrations of the test design for grades 3-8 and further explanation about griddable items are available at:
TEA established a four (4) hour time limit for both STAAR grades 3-8 assessments and STAAR EOC assessments for the 2012 spring test administration. TEA notes that a four hour time limit should provide sufficient time for the majority of students to complete the test. The rationale for time limits aligns Texas testing practices with other timed state and national assessments, i.e. SAT, ACT and AP examinations. Extended time accommodations for students with unique learning needs will continue to be offered.
The Student Success Initiative requires that students in grades 5 and 8 pass both the reading and math exams to be promoted to the next grade. Students that do not pass these tests in April will have a retest opportunity in May, and a third and final opportunity in June.
Districts will be required to provide remediation to any student who fails a STAAR assessment, whether in grades 3-8 or high school.