Why is my child being tested?

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Why Is Your Child Taking a Test?

All students, even those receiving special education services, should participate in an assessment at their respective grade level.  If your child is receiving special education services, the ARD/IEP committee (which includes you) will decide which specific test your child will take.  

In grades K-2, there are the Reading Readiness instruments that districts can use to diagnose reading development and comprehension.

In grades 3-8, there are the required State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness tests, or STAAR, which assess how students are progressing in the curriculum.   

In grade 7, there is a Reading Readiness instrument that districts must use for students who did not demonstrate reading proficiency on the grade 6 STAAR test.

In grades 9-12, there are required STAAR End of Course tests for specific classes. 

Note: There are limited exemptions allowed.  If your child is in a grade in which the STAAR or an end-of-course assessment is taken, then your child with a disability needs to participate in an assessment.

Background

In the state of Texas, until 1997 students receiving special education services were excluded from the assessment process, and therefore did not impact school accountability/rankings. Often students with mild disabilities who just needed accommodations or differentiated instruction in the classroom were routinely referred for special education services in order to exclude them from the assessment process and subsequently the accountability ratings. Until 1997, there were no or low expectations for students with disabilities to learn anything in the 12+ years of attending school.

Today that is not an option.  With the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001 and the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) in 2004, the issue of assessing all students on grade level curriculum was addressed. This led to a new level of testing for all students across the country.

Texas began to revise its testing as well. In the 2007-2008 school year, all students were to have access to grade level curriculum in some shape or form. Therefore, no student receiving special education services is exempt from the assessment process. To learn more about how to access grade level curriculum with prerequisite skills, see the curriculum frameworks developed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

In response to requirements set forth by the 80th and 81st Texas legislatures, the Texas Education Agency, in collaboration with the Texas Higher Education Board and Texas educators, developed a new assessment system that focused on increasing postsecondary readiness of graduating high school students and helping to ensure that all Texas students will be competitive with other students both nationally and internationally.

This statewide assessment system, known as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™), is used to measure how well students are progressing.  The STAAR is aligned with the state-mandated curriculum, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), and replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS)

Additional Resources:

Texas Project FIRST:

Assessment Resources