“What is the difference between TAKS and STAAR?”
During the last year, this question has been voiced by parents during every one of my community group presentations. Last week, I promised one group I would blog about this question so they could better understand what was happening in Texas schools and to their children.
Maybe we should start off by answering a couple of basic questions. The Arlington ISD website offers some succinct answers,
“What is STAAR?”
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, will replace the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) program beginning in spring 2012. The STAAR program at grades 3–8 will assess the same grades and subjects as are assessed on TAKS. For high school, general subject-area TAKS tests will be replaced with twelve STAAR end-of-course (EOC) assessments.
“Why is there a new assessment program for Texas students?”
The Texas Education Agency (TEA), in collaboration with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and Texas educators, is developing a new assessment system in response to requirements set forth by the 80th and 81st Texas legislatures. This new system will focus on increasing postsecondary readiness of graduating high school students and helping to ensure that Texas students are competitive with other students both nationally and internationally.
If you’d like to read the responses to about 45 typical questions about STAAR, the AISD website would be worth your time. [http://www.aisd.net/aisd/Default.aspx?alias=www.aisd.net/aisd/testing]
Here is a simple explanation of the difference between TAKS and STAAR, as shared by the Texas Education Agency (TEA):
“TEA is also implementing a number of changes [in state-wide, mandated, student assessment] that should serve to test knowledge and skills in a deeper way.”
- Tests will contain a greater number of items that have a higher cognitive complexity level.
- Items will be developed to more closely match the cognitive complexity level evident in the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).
- In reading, greater emphasis will be given to critical analysis than to literal understanding.
- In writing, students will be required to write two essays rather than one.
- In social studies, science, and mathematics, process skills will be assessed in context, not in isolation, which will allow for a more integrated and authentic assessment of these content areas.
- In science and mathematics, the number of open-ended (griddable) items will increase to allow students more opportunity to derive an answer independently.
- Students who are currently in 9th grade will be the first to take the End-of-Course (EOC) tests
- Under the new EOC system, students will be required to pass 15 EOC exams in order to graduate
- Test scores on each of the required EOC exams will count for 15% of the student’s final grade in the course.
- The last TAKS-based accountability ratings were issued in 2011. Accountability ratings will be suspended in 2012. The new state rating system will debut in 2013.
The North East ISD website gives a good description of what’s different about STAAR,
“The STAAR tests will be more rigorous than the TAKS tests and are designed to measure a student’s college and career readiness, starting in elementary school. These readiness standards will be defined by those TEKS considered critical for success in the current grade/course and important for preparedness in following grades/courses, and ultimately for college and career. The majority of the test (60-65 percent) will concentrate on these readiness standards, but STAAR will also assess other TEKS for the current grade/course — known as supporting standards.” [http://www.neisd.net/staar/general-info.html]
If you have more questions or would like to dig a little deeper about Texas’ new student assessment, the following links might be helpful.
As I speak to parent and teacher groups about STAAR and state-wide, mandated student assessments, I also share with them my lack of fear and reaction to any new state test. One teacher recently asked, “Will STAAR impact your work with Tabor Rotation?” That question and an explanation of the acronym, MSPAP, will be answered in my next blog.
“Much of the learning in traditional systems of imposed instruction is for the purpose of passing the next test. Information is put into the brain’s”closed file” as soon as the test is over because it has already served its purpose.” Lynn Stoddard
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” -John Dewey