What you need to know about the STAAR test

Student taking the STAAR® test.

In the state of Texas, the STAAR® test program has been initiated. The acronym stands for State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. Whether given at the end of grades (elementary grades 3–5 and middle school grades 6–8) or at the conclusion of a certain course in high school, these tests must be administered to Texas public school students.

At the end of grades 3 through 5, students are assessed in reading and mathematics, with an additional test in writing at the end of grade 4 and science at the end of grade 5. Grades 6 through 8 follow largely the same testing pattern, with reading and math tests every year, adding writing in grade 7, and science and social studies in grade 8. At these grade levels, test results are often used to assess readiness for instruction at the next grade level and can factor into promotion decisions. Reading and math tests must be passed for promotion from grades 5 and 8 in Texas.

At the high school level, students must pass certain end-of-course tests to graduate. The required tests are given after the student has taken English I, English II, Algebra I, Biology, and U.S. History. Texas is currently planning optional tests for the conclusion of English III and Algebra II.

The content covered in all of the tests has been approved by the state and is available to the public, along with other preparation resources, at the Texas Education Agency website.

What are the costs?

There does not seem to be any cost for any STAAR® test.

What should I bring?

Your local testing facility (the school) and its staff are the best sources for information about materials needed on test day.

How is it scored?

STAAR® tests are scored in levels. You will receive one of these three designations for each test you take, based on the percentage of correct answers you choose:

  • III—Advanced Academic Performance
  • II—Satisfactory Academic Performance
  • I—Unsatisfactory Academic Performance

A score must be a level II or III to be considered “passing.”

What kind of job can I get?

Student success in school has always been important but never has it received such intense focus as it does today. Not only is attendance important, but various factions want to know, “What does the student learn while he or she is present?” Teachers want to know if their methods are productive, parents want to know if their children are doing well, and everyone else, it seems, wants to know if the school is doing its job. Students are encouraged to attend regularly and make the most of the instruction offered. But do they? And how well do they do that? What are the results? Enter the world of end-of-grade and end-of-course testing. Usually beginning in about the third grade, children and young adults are regularly assessed on their academic knowledge and skills.

Am I eligible?

Basically, you are eligible (and usually required) to take the appropriate STAAR® test for your grade level (3–8) and for certain high school courses you have completed in Texas.

Why does it matter?

Showing what you know and what you can do on the STAAR® tests is a positive step toward your future. Doing the best you can is important for your educational progress. Your results let teachers and other educators know how well their courses of study prepare students and how effectively you have taken advantage of the school’s educational resources.

What salary can I expect?

Unless you have a part-time job, this time in your life is not necessarily about the money you earn, but your future is, at least to the extent you make enough money to support yourself. Part of preparing for your future hinges on learning the academic basics in elementary, middle, and high school so that you are well-prepared to tackle higher-level studies and/or function well in a satisfying job. Since many of the STAAR® tests will function as your admission ticket to the next life step, it will pay you in the long run to do your best.

When is it available?

STAAR® tests are given by the public schools of Texas at the student’s school of attendance. The state sets specific time frames for the administration of elementary and middle school tests, which are given near the end of the school year, with two grade level exceptions. Since passing scores on reading and math are required for promotion in grades 5 and 8, tests at these levels are given in early April to allow for remediation and re-testing in mid-May and late June.

End of course (EOC) tests for high school students are offered at the end of each semester, including summer. Students are encouraged to take them immediately following the completion of the course tested. English I and English II tests tend to be given about a month before the others. There are circumstances in which other standardized tests, such as the ACT® or SAT® tests, may be used to satisfy EOC testing requirements. There is more information about that here.

Tips & Tricks

  • There are accommodations available for students who qualify. Be sure you or your parents contact the school about any need you may have for these well before the testing dates.

  • In grades 3 through 8, all tests are given using paper and pencil. The high school EOC tests come in both versions: online and paper. Be sure you know which kind of test to expect and familiarize yourself with the format ahead of time.

Time Allowed

Our information indicates that the high school EOC English I and English II tests have a 5-hour time limit and that testing time is set at 4 hours for other STAAR® high school EOC tests. Elementary and middle school testing times vary, so you’ll need to check with your school to find time information for those grades.

Practice using our expertly crafted questions!