NOTE: Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year:
Students in Grades 3-8 will take STAAR, STAAR-Modified, or STAAR-ALT.
Students beginning 9th grade will take end of course exams.
Students in 10th grade+, will take TAKS , TAKS-Modified, or STAAR-Alt
The statewide assessment system, known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is used to measure how well students are progressing. The TAKS is aligned with the state-mandated curriculum, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Until the 2006-2007 school year, Texas was using a three-tier model to assess students with disabilities. ARD committees for students receiving special education services would determine which assessment the student would take. The previous choices were:
- State Developed Alternative Assessment (SDAA), or
- Locally Developed Alternative Assessment (LDAA).
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) aligned special education law with No Child Left Behind. Both these laws reflect a requirement to ensure that students with disabilities have equal opportunities to access grade level curriculum, as well as participate in statewide assessments. Therefore, the testing requirements for students with disabilities underwent significant changes. For the 2007-2008 school year, the assessment options for students with disabilities will be:
- Spanish TAKS (only available in grade 3-6),
- TAKS - Modified, or
- TAKS - Alternate
Note: There are no exemptions allowed. If your child is in a grade in which the TAKS or an exit level test is taken, then your child with a disability needs to participate in an assessment.
What Parents Need To Know
First, parents need to know that the assessment system for students with disabilities is confusing at best. The assessment system had new requirements in the 2006-2007 school year, and this year will certainly be challenging for ARD Committees. If you find yourself completely confused and not understanding the implications of your decisions, know that you are like any other parent of a child receiving special education services. Even though we are all in the same predicament, we still have to make educated decisions, so ask questions of the school personnel that will help you understand the options. Consider spending some time on the Student Assessment Division website at TEA prior to attending your ARD meeting to find out what the latest changes are before you sit down to make decisions that will affect your child.
At each ARD meeting, the ARD committee discusses how the student accesses grade level curriculum for each subject tested and then the statewide assessment options for the student. It is expected that the ARD committee always considers the TAKS as the first option when making assessment decisions. To learn more about the TAKS tests, parents should review the TAKS Information booklets. By reviewing the TAKS information booklets, parents may find it easier to determine which test is appropriate for their child, as well as help them develop possible IEP goals and objectives. The booklets show:
- what students are required to know at each grade level (the TEKS),
- why the TEKS objective is tested,
- the number of items tested under each TEKS objective, and
- examples (sample test items) on how those expectations are met/tested.
During the ARD assessment discussion, allowable accommodations will also be discussed. For students receiving special education services, all testing accommodations MUST be listed in the student’s IEP and used on a regular basis.
There are 4 types of accommodations:
- Presentation – alternate formats to regular print
- Response – alternate methods of completing assessments
- Setting – change to the location in which test is given
- Timing and Scheduling – increase length of time or way time is organized.
Some accommodations or modifications used routinely by students in the classroom may invalidate certain tests and place the student into other tests, like the TAKS-M or TAKS-Alt. For more detail on allowable accommodations for all assessments, see pgs.19-26 of the Current Year Accommodations Manual.
For more information about accommodations and the entire assessment decision-making process, review the TEA parent manual, ARD Committee Decision-Making Process for the Texas Assessment Program:
Other assessment options that ARD Committees may consider include:
TAKS – Accommodated (Formerly known as TAKS-I)
TAKS - Accommodated meets the IDEA 2004 and NCLB requirements; and is an assessment that is available ONLY to students who receive special education services for whom TAKS, even with the allowable accommodations, is not an appropriate measure. The TAKS Accommodated is a general assessment that will include format changes (larger font, fewer items per page, etc.) and does not include any field test questions. Note: ARD Committees do not need to reconvene just to change the test name if TAKS-I was listed on the testing page instead of TAKS-Accommodated.
TAKS-Accommodated will measure the academic progress of students receiving instruction in TEKS on or near grade level in:
- Reading, grades 3-9
- Writing, grades 4 & 7
- Math, grades 3-10 and exit level
- Science, grades 5, 8, 10 and exit level
- Social studies, grades 8,10 and exit level
- English Language Arts, grade 10 and exit level
- Spanish Reading, grades 3-6
- Spanish Math, grades 3-6
- Spanish Writing, grade 4
- Spanish Science, grade 5
Students may only take TAKS-Accommodated tests at their enrolled grade level. If it is determined that TAKS-Accommodated is not appropriate, the student will need to take either the TAKS-M or TAKS-Alt. There are no exemptions.
There will be retest opportunities for students who do not pass the TAKS-Accommodated at grades 5 & 8 and exit level beginning in spring/summer 2008. For more information on the Student Success Initiative (SSI) and promotion, please see pg. 31 of the Grade Placement Manual.
TAKS - Modified (TAKS-M)
TAKS-M measures the academic progress of students with disabilities for whom, even with allowable accommodations, the TAKS or TAKS-Accommodated, are not considered appropriate measures of academic progress. It is an Alternate Assessment based on Modified Academic Achievement Standards. Only 2% of the proficient (passing) students in TAKS-M will count towards Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in federal accountability.
The TAKS-M is a testing option ONLY for students receiving special education services:
- Who have a disability that significantly affects academic progress in the grade level TEKS, and
- Who cannot achieve grade level proficiency within one year.
In addition to meeting both of the above requirements, students MUST meet 4 additional criteria to participate in the TAKS-M. To view a description of the participation requirements, click here: (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index3.aspx?id=3636&menu_id=793#part_req)
While the TAKS-M replaces the SDAA II for the 2007-2008 school year, it is important to note TAKS-M is not like the SDAA II. Previously, the SDAA II tested students at their instructional level, rather than based on their enrolled grade level. Now students must take the TAKS-M at their current enrolled grade level in order to comply with federal regulations.
Like the TAKS-I, TAKS-M includes format changes (larger font, fewer items per page, etc.). In addition, it is modified in test design (ie fewer answer choices, simpler vocabulary and sentence structure, etc.).
For more information on the TAKS-M – visit the TAKS-M Resources on the TEA website.
TAKS-Alt is an assessment that is being used to meet the required federal requirements of NCLB for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. It is an Alternate Assessment based on Alternate Academic Achievement Standards. Only 1% of the students proficient (passing) TAKS-Alt will count towards Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in federal accountability.
Like TAKS-M, there are specific participation requirements for students taking the TAKS-Alt. TAKS-Alt is ONLY for students receiving special education services:
- Who have the most significant cognitive disabilities and
- Who are unable to participate in the other statewide assessments even with substantial accommodations and/or modifications
In addition to meeting both of the above requirements, students MUST meet 5 additional criteria to participate in the TAKS-Alt. To view a description of the participation requirements, click here:
TAKS-Alt was piloted in the fall of 2006, field tested in spring 2007, and will be fully implemented in the spring of 2008.
Texas Project FIRST has developed some questions and answers on the TAKS-Alt, click here.
NOTE: A student may take various test forms (TAKS, TAKS-Accomm., or TAKS-M) for different subject areas since a student’s skill level or accommodations needed may vary across subjects. But a student who meets the participation requirements for TAKS-Alt will take TAKS-Alt for all tested subjects.
Also – the 2% and 1% AYP amounts DO NOT limit the number of students who can take the TAKS-M and TAKS-Alt, but limit the number of passing students who a school district can count as passing in calculating AYP.
The TEA website has a wealth of information about the assessment process. Visit the Student Assessment Division to find guidance documents, released tests, FAQs and more.
For more information on the TAKS-M, click on TAKS-M Resources.
For more information on TAKS-Alt, click on TAKS-Alt Resources.
Parents can also learn more by accessing the TAKS-Alt training modules provided by the TAKS-Alt Resources.
An up-to-date Testing Calendar is available on the Student Assessment Division website.
Student Success Initiative – Learn more about grade advancement requirements that apply in grades 5 and 8 (Reading and Math).
Released Tests – Pdf files and online versions of released tests are available here.
Legal Framework for Child Centered Special Educations Process - See Intensive Program of Instruction to know what to do If Child Doesn't Pass TAKS, TAK-Accommodated, TAKS-M, or TAKS-Alt
STAAR Testing – A new assessment program for Texas public schools beginning with the 2011-12 school year, and a new accountability system beginning with the 2012-13 school year. A transition plan to be published in December 2010 will lay out the timelines and processes for development of the new assessment program.
End of Course Exams - The purpose of the end-of-course (EOC) assessments is to measure students’ academic performance in core high school courses and to become part of the graduation requirements beginning with the freshman class of 2011–2012.