HISD Prepares For New State Exams
As required by two new state laws, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams will replace the eight-year-old Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test as the state’s official student assessment system in the 2011–2012 school year.
The STAAR will include 12 end-of-course assessments and the new grade 3-8 assessments mandated by the state legislature. To give students experience with taking the new tests, HISD from May 10- 27 will administer the new end-of-course exams to high school and select middle school students.
Students will be given the state-developed, end-of-course exams in seven core subjects: Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, Chemistry, U.S. History, Physics, and World Geography. The results of the early tests won’t count officially toward student graduation or on HISD teachers’ value-added reports, but they will be used for diagnostic purposes to see how students are performing on the more-rigorous assessments.
“The goal of exposing our students to these exams early is to make them, parents and teachers more familiar with the upcoming changes and requirements,” said HISD Deputy Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Chuck Morris. “We also want to make sure our curriculum and professional development is aligned with the new tests to ensure that teachers have the tools they need to ensure student success.”
The end-of-course exams, which are designed to help students meet college-readiness standards, are course-specific, more rigorous than the TAKS, and administered online. “Because the tests are done without pencil and paper, HISD will need to prepare its technology infrastructure for large-scale on-line assessment,” said Carla Stevens, HISD’s Assistant Superintendent of Research and Accountability.
Students in the graduating Class of 2015, who are currently in the seventh grade, will be the first students who will have to meet the new end-of-course testing requirements. Starting with the high school freshmen of 2011–2012, students will have to pass certain end-of-course STAAR tests as well as their classes to graduate from high school. The exams will also, at that time, be included as part of a student’s final grade as dictated by the new law.
HISD is working with the TEA as it develops the guidelines for the new STAAR system, specifically with regard to the online end-of-course assessments. A committee of principals has been looking at ways to assure a smooth transition and successful implementation prior to 2011–2012.