TEA launches STAAR test redesign

Under House Bill 3906, the Texas Legislature made some changes to how students will take the Texas state assessment better known as STAAR.

"So, the new design is to allow the students to have a variety of ways to respond to questions, not just multiple choice," says Kathy Burbank, Lake Travis ISD director of accountability and assessments.

Earlier this week Raise Your Hand Texas rallied at the state capitol to visit with the legislators to highlight the importance of STAAR reform.

"The test also fails to provide meaningful feedback in the reality of how students really learn," says Charles Randkley, president of the Keller ISD board of trustees.

Burbank says the STAAR redesign includes online testing and accommodations, new question types, and written responses.

"And it's not just on a simple prompt, like tell us about your very best day. It's about a reading passage that I may actually read. And so, when they read that passage, they're going to write about what they read and answer specific questions about what they've read," says Burbank.

But why are they making the changes now? The Texas Education Agency (TEA), working with a wide range of education stakeholders, including the Assessment Education Advisory Committee, has been exploring the most instructionally supportive approach to implementing these changes.


"We have learned that that having this new design allows us for more rigorous questions, admittedly digging a little deeper of analyzing," says Burbank.

About 86 percent of students at Lake Travis ISD already took a STAAR test this week and after taking the test, they responded with positive feedback.

"I didn't hear any complaints. Kids, oh, this is fine. This is just like what we do all the time," says Burbank.

With this testing, it also helps the educators know what subjects students need more help on.

"The math we are…math is improving. Reading is being a little slower in it and improving. I'm not sure all the kids were reading during the pandemic when they were home," says Burbank.

Typically, parents are able to know how their students did on the test before summer break, now they will have to wait until August.

The TEA has also put together two new webpages that host specific resources about the redesigned STAAR tests, one for districts and one for parents