Breaking Down the STAAR: The Basics

Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) was implemented as the replacement testing program for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), changes affecting the state assessment of students in Grades 3-12.

According to the Texas Education Agency, this rigorous program will focus on academic growth and college readiness.

Elementary and middle school students will be tested in the same subjects they previously tested under the TAKS test.

At the high school level, 15 end-of-course assessments will replace the standard grade-specific tests.

Students who entered the ninth grade in the 2011-2012 school year will be the first to take the 15 end-of-course assessments. All other students currently enrolled in high school will continue to take the TAKS test until graduation.

In Grades 3-8, students will test in reading and mathematics each year.

In Grades 4 and 7, students will test in writing.

In Grades 5 and 8, students will test in science.

Finally in Grade 8, students will test in social studies.

Under the new STAAR tests, students will be subjected to a time limit of four hours unless the student is eligible for an accommodation.

Of special importance to students in Grades 5 and 8: Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, student STAAR results will be used to calculate a Student Success Initiative score that will be used as the basis for promotion to the next grade.

Also of importance: State legislators are currently revisiting portions of the STAAR program, raising the possibility of changes that could be applied at any time.

For the latest information on STAAR, including sample questions and resources for special accommodations, visit