By Jessamy Brown | Star Telegram
Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2012
The state will phase in passing standards for the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness end-of-course exams for high school students over four years, officials announced.
This year's freshman class is the first to be required to pass 12 end-of-course STAAR exams to graduate. This year's sophomores and juniors will continue to take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge of Skills, which is being phased out.
STAAR's phase-in will start with the same passing standards this year and in 2013. They will be raised for 2014 and 2015, and final standards will be in place by 2016.
The standards, announced Tuesday by the Texas Education Agency, are broken down into three categories:
Level I is unsatisfactory academic performance, meaning the student did not pass the test.
Level II is satisfactory performance, for students who meet the passing standard.
Level III is advanced performance, for students who are well-prepared for the next grade or course.
While teachers and students now know how the scoring will be configured, they still don't know how many questions must be answered correctly to pass, said Suzanne Marchman, a TEA spokeswoman.
The number will vary from year to year, depending on how many questions are on the test and how each question is weighted. That information will be released in June.
Arlington school district Superintendent Jerry McCullough said he is glad to get information about the passing standards and phase-in but wants more details.
"The district was also hoping to get some ballpark figures of what percent correct is needed to pass these tests," he said. "We hope these figures will be coming soon."
The phase-in will give school districts time to adjust instruction and provide more training for teachers, because STAAR is designed to be more rigorous than TAKS, Marchman said.
The first round of end-of-course results come out in June. This will allow students who don't do well on a test to take a summer class before retesting in July, while the information is still fresh, said Sara Arispe, the Fort Worth school district executive director of accountability and data quality.
"Having that few weeks between getting the results and the summer [test] administration could really make a difference for some students," Arispe said.
Ninth-graders took end-of-course tests in reading and writing in late March. Schools have a two-week window starting May 7 to give the other tests.
Elementary and middle school students are taking the bulk of their STAAR tests this week, but the passing standards for those exams won't be released until the fall.
What it takes to pass
Examples of passing scores for high school end-of-course exams. Final passing standards will be set in 2016.
| Test || 2012-13 |
| 2012-13 |
| 2014-15 |
| 2014-15 |
| English III reading || 1875 || 2135 || 1950 || 2356 |
| Algebra II || 3500 || 4080 || 3750 || 4411 |
| Biology || 3500 || N/A || 3750 || 4576 |
| World history || 3500 || N/A || 3750 || 4634 |
Source: Texas Education Agency