A New Math STAAR

Author: Fredric Noriega

Texas is set to implement the revised math standards during the 2014-2015 school year for grades kindergarten through 8. High school math teachers will implement new math standards in their courses for the following year, 2015-16. Along with the implementation of the new math standards we are going to see a very different Math STAAR than we had originally anticipated. Depending on the grade level, some of these changes are either a blessing or a curse. Here are the changes we can expect:

All new TEKS are fair game

TEA originally made the decision to only assess the “overlapping” TEKS during the first year of implementation. In other words, only those concepts and skills that could be found in both the current and revised TEKS would be assessed. This was a relief for many math teachers, especially those grade levels that are seeing a lot of new material in their standards. Many teachers, campuses and districts decided that it would be in the best interest of the students to teach material that was new  ̶  the non-overlapping standards  ̶  after the STAAR test next spring. This way students could focus on the “overlap” or assessed material and be well-prepared for the STAAR test. TEA recently announced (during the week of Feb. 17, 2014) that the STAAR exam during the first year of new TEKS implementation will focus solely on the revised standards, regardless of whether or not the content is new to the grade level. This decision was based on the fact that in certain grades there is not enough overlap between the current and new standards to use for creating an assessment. Those teachers that had planned to focus on teaching the new content after STAAR will now have to adjust their plan since students will see assessment questions based on those standards. Consider the revised math standard 5.3K: add and subtract positive rational numbers fluently. A current 4th grade student is learning how to add and subtract whole numbers. In 5th grade they will need to learn how to add/subtract fractions with common and uncommon denominators. This is a very big leap in content for students, and possibly even for the teacher.

New Testing Format

Since all new standards will be eligible on the STAAR assessment we also have new resources. TEA has made the following available:

  • Assessed Curriculum Documents. These documents identify the new Reporting Categories. New Supporting and Readiness standards are identified as well as which standards are eligible for testing.
  • Blueprints. These documents give an at-a-glance look at the reporting categories including supporting and readiness standards.  They also act as a guide in determining how many STAAR questions can be expected from each reporting category.
  • Reference Materials. These documents include formulas and conversion tables that students will be able to use on the STAAR exam.

All of these documents can be found by visiting the TEA webpage at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/math/.

Calculators are required on the 8th grade STAAR

The new 8th grade standards place a strong emphasis on developing algebraic skills and, because of this, TEA has decided that students will require the use of a calculator. Many middle school campuses may only have one set of graphing calculators per math teacher, but that may not be enough to offer 1:1 calculators during testing. Some schools are planning to borrow calculators from the local high school, while other schools and districts are trying to find money in their budgets to purchase more calculators.  Another option currently under pilot for 8th grade math students for the 2014-2015 school year is to use a graphing calculator app on a tablet or non-smart phone mobile device.

Algebra 2 EOC is back

The Algebra 2 STAAR EOC assessment is going to return during the 2014-2015 school year; however, TEA is making the assessment optional; the results are only going to be used to determine college academic readiness and will not be used for accountability purposes. Note: TEA has made the assessment optional for students taking Algebra 2; however, a district could make the decision to require Algebra 2 students to take the exam.


The information here was shared by TEA at the Spring TASM meeting on Feb. 21, 2014.


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