What Happens If My Child Doesn’t Pass the STAAR?

The STAAR system annually tests students in grades 3-8 and tests high school students via end-of-course exams. High school students must pass Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology and U.S. History end-of-course exams to graduate.

Individual graduation committees must be established for students in 11th or 12th grade who have failed up to two of the EOCs. The committee determines whether a student can graduate despite failing the exams. The committee is composed of the principal/designee, the teacher of each course for which the student failed the EOC, the department chair or lead teacher supervising the course teacher and the student’s parent (or the student if at least age 18).

To graduate under this route, the student must successfully complete the curriculum requirements. The IGC must recommend additional requirements by which the student may qualify to graduate, including: (1) additional remediation; and (2) for each test failed, the completion of a project related to the subject area or the preparation of a portfolio of work samples in the subject area. The IGC must consider the recommendation of the teacher of each relevant course, the grade in each relevant course, the EOC score, hours of remediation, attendance rate, satisfaction of TSI benchmarks, successful completion of dual-credit courses, and performance on additional measures. The committee’s vote to determine a student’s eligibility for graduation must be unanimous, and the decision is final and not appealable. These provisions expire Sept. 1, 2019.

A student who fails the Algebra I or English II EOC but receives a proficient score on the Texas Success Initiative in the corresponding subject satisfies the EOC passage requirements.

Assessments must be designed so that they can be completed by 85 percent of students within two hours, in grades 3-5; or three hours in grades 6-8. The time allowed for test administration may not exceed eight hours and may occur on only one day.

TEA was required to conduct a study during the 2015-16 school year to develop an alternative method of assessing writing in grades 4-7, as well as the English I and II EOCs. TEA is conducting a pilot of the alternative writing assessment method in designated school districts during the 2017-18 school year.

Special education students

STAAR Alternate: This test is designed to assess students in grades 3-8 and high school receiving special education services who have significant cognitive disabilities. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act puts a 1 percent cap at the state level on the number of students who can be assessed in this manner.

STAAR Accommodated: This test is offered to special education students who don’t qualify for STAAR Alternate but need help in accessing the content being assessed. STAAR A is an online assessment in the same grades and subjects as STAAR. The passing standards for STAAR A are the same as any STAAR test. STAAR A provides embedded supports, such as visual aids, graphic organizers, clarifications of construct-irrelevant terms and text-to-speech functionality.

Student promotion/accelerated instruction

Texas’ Student Success Initiative, which prohibits the social promotion of students, places emphasis on the STAAR test for determining whether a student advances to the next grade level in grade 5 (a fifth-grade student must pass the math and reading STAAR tests to be promoted to grade 6) and in grade 8 (an eighth-grade student must pass the math and reading STAAR tests to be promoted to grade 9). For all other grades, districts must adopt a policy regarding student advancement. It must include: consideration of the student’s score on the state assessment to the extent applicable; the recommendation of the student’s teacher; the student’s grade in each subject/course; and any other necessary information determined by the district.

Each time a student fails a state assessment, the school district must provide the student with accelerated instruction, which may require participation before or after normal school hours and may include participation outside of the normal school year. The maximum class size for accelerated instruction classes in grades 5 and 8 is 10 students per instructor. A student in grade 5 or 8 who fails to complete the required accelerated instruction cannot be promoted.

A student in grade 5 or 8 who fails the state assessment but is promoted must be assigned in all foundation curriculum subjects to teachers who meet all state and federal qualifications to teach those subjects and grades.

The first time a student fails the STAAR in grade 5 or 8, he/she must be provided at least two opportunities to retest. On the third try, the district may administer an alternative assessment approved by the commissioner, and the student may be promoted if he/she performs at grade level on the alternative assessment.

After a student fails the STAAR a second time, a grade placement committee must be established to prescribe the accelerated instruction program the student must receive. The GPC includes the principal or designee, the student’s parent or guardian, and the teacher of the subject of the failed STAAR test. In the case of a special education student, the GPC is the Admission, Review and Dismissal committee. If the student fails the STAAR a third time, he/she must be retained unless the GPC unanimously determines that if promoted and given accelerated instruction, the student is likely to perform at grade level. In this case, the student must be provided with accelerated instruction, even after promotion.

This information was excerpted from the Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) webpage on the STAAR/Student Assessment at https://tcta.org/node/11505-staarstudent_assessment