STAAR Modified Participation Requirements








Breaking News—

TEA has posted the new participation requirements for STAAR-Modified.  This form can also be located on TEA’s website at the STAAR Modified Resources page and is a State-Required Documentation Form.

This means that TEA requires campuses to complete and file this form for all students who take an alternate assessment.  The district can decide whether they are going to add this form to the IEP or keep it as a separate document.

When determining whether a student meets the participation requirements the ARD Committee members will need to be aware of several things.

  1. The ARD committee must understand all assessment options;
  2. The ARD Committee must understand the characteristics  of each assessment; and
  3. The ARD Committee must understand the potential implications of each assessment choice.

The ARD Committee must answer 3 questions that are on the form.  For each question that is answered “YES “, justification must be provided that references the page(s) and/or section (s) of the Individualized Education Program  (IEP) that contains evidence that the student meets the criteria. 

(Example:  Question1:  The ARD Committee circles “YES” for Reading.  They must provide justification by referencing the page(s) or section(s) of the ARD document that contains the evidence that the student meets the criteria (ARD pg. 3 – Rdg. PLAAFP; pg. 6 Rdg Goals; pg 7 Accommodations in Rdg)

There are 4 assurance statements that must be discussed and initialed by district personnel.  These statements are assuring that the IEP states:

  • why the student cannot participate in the general assessment
  • why an alternate assessment is appropriate for the student
  • that the student meets all of the eligibility criteria
  • that decision was based on multiple sources of measurable, objective evidence
  • that decision was not based solely on student’s previous performance on statewide assessment
  • that decision was made by ARD Committee and not administratively
  • that decision is based on the student’s educational need and the instruction the student is receiving.

So how can you be sure that the STAARs are aligned and each student will be taking the appropriate test?  ARD committees may need some helpful guidance and helpful tools.  Please refer to the blog post from 8-19-2011 STAAR Decisions for  a tool that can be used to examine the alignment of assessment decisions based on student need and state requirements.

Rosa’s Law and HB 1481

What did Rosa’s Law do?

When Rosa’s law was passed in January 2010 the term “mental retardation” was removed in federal laws and regulations and the term “intellectual disabilities” was inserted.   The bill in full can be accessed by clicking here.

What does HB 1481 do?

HB 1481 replaces the term “persons with mental retardation” to “persons with intellectual disabilities.” The terminology has also been replaced in Section 4. Subchapter C, Chapter 7 of the Education Code and has been amended to read as follows:

Sec.7.063. PERSON FIRST RESPECTFUL LANGUAGE PROMOTION –   The commissioner shall ensure that the agency uses the terms and phrases listed as preferred under the person first respectful language initiative in Chapter 392, Government Code, when proposing, adopting, or amending the agency’s rules, reference materials, publications, and electronic media.

To read HB 1481 click here

What has already changed?

The Student Attendance Accounting Handbook has already changed and replaced the term “mental  retardation” with “intellectual disability.”  

PEIMS Code 06 will replace ‘Mental Retardation” with “Intellectual Disability” in the 2011-12 Data Standards as soon as possible.

The Legal Framework has updated the Mental Retardation Framework and it will become Intellectual Disability Framework.  This update has not been posted but will be as soon as possible.

What has not changed?

Please Note that this revised terminology has not been incorporated in 19 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 89, Subchapter AA, Commissioner’s Rules Concerning Special Education Services, as of the publication date of this handbook. This change will be considered upon the next revision of the Commissioner’s rules.

Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR)  has not changed the terminology they are using at this time. 

What does this mean for you?

Districts should begin using “person first respectful language.”  Students should be referred to as students with intellectual disabilities and not mentally retarded students or students with mental retardation. 

Districts should avoid references to mentally ill, developmentally disabled, or disabled and refer to person or students with:  mental illness, developmental disabilities, disabilities.

STAAR Decisions

It’s the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year……and the STAARs of Texas are upon you.  Students will begin experiencing the increased rigor in everyday instruction.  How can you be sure that the STAARs are aligned and each student will be taking the appropriate test?  ARD committees may need some helpful guidance.  Attached is a tool for examining the alignment of assessment decisions based on student need and state requirements.  To utilize this updated tool click on the appropriate grade level below.
                                    3rd    4th    5th    6th    7th    8th    9th    10th    11th

NEW Special Education STAAR Resources Page

We are proud to announce our new Special Education STAAR Resources page.  When you visit this page, expect to find relevant and helpful tools to help make the transition to STAAR a smooth one, specifically for students receiving special education services.  We are hoping this will become one of your frequently visited sites for all things related to special education and STAAR.

You’ll find resources and quick links listed for STAAR, STAAR Modified, and STAAR Alternate.

The tools and links on this page are just the beginning, we are already planning and working on the next set of resources.

If you have any ideas for tools and resources you think we need to add to the site, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

FREE Webinar: Increase Students’ Science Content Vocabulary

Click Here to Register for this Session-Open to the First 90 People to Register

Join learning strategy specialist, Dr. Kelly Grillo, for a 60 minute webinar as she reviews some practical and free research-based strategies to improve your students’ science vocabulary knowledge.

Join Dr. Grillo as she will…

  • identify research-based instructional practices appropriate for use to increase science literacy.
  • describe a variety of research-based instructional practices for use in science language development.
  • explain how science teachers can integrate instructional practices with confidence that support vocabulary learning data.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? General and Special Educators looking to develop new strategies for students with disabilities and at-risk students in the area of science.

Click Here to Register for this Session-Open to the First 90 People to Register

This coming Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm CST

Click here to watch Kelly’s personal story as to how she was able to move beyond her own learning disabilities, largely in part to her ninth grade Biology teacher that “saved her life”.

An archived recording will be made available to those who registered for the session but were either unable to attend or were placed on the waiting list.

Click Here to Register for this Session-Open to the First 90 People to Register

STAAR & STAAR Modified Combined Blueprints

We have recently created the STAAR and STAAR Modified combined blueprints for all tested subjects, grades 3-8.  These documents allow you to compare the number of items, performance tasks, and assessed TEKS for both the STAAR and STAAR Modified assessment, all on a single page.

It’s important to note the Readiness Standards for each STAAR and STAAR Modified assessment will make up 60-70% of what is assessed, the other 30-40% will consist of the listed Supporting Standards.  The Readiness Standards will always be tested each year, the Supporting Standards on the other hand, will rotate from year to year.

All of the blueprints below do not include the embedded field test items, only the number of items that will be officially scored.  To learn more about the basic components of the STAAR assessment, click here to watch the STAAR Overview video.

Grades 3-5 Reading
Grades 6-8 Reading

Grade 4 Writing
Grade 7 Writing

Grades 3-5 Math
Grades 6-8 Math

Grade 5 Science
Grade 8 Science

Grade 8 Social Studies

STAAR Alternate Updates

The TEA has released new updates pertaining to STAAR Alternate.  Some of the highlights are listed below, but do access the full document by clicking here.

The highlights pertain to the STAAR Alternate training modules and End-of-Course enrollment and assessment.

The new STAAR Alternate training modules, 1-3, will be available on August 29, 2011 on their home training site.  The modules are more rigorous and you’ll only be allowed two opportunities to pass each module with 80% accuracy.  The recommendation is that you review each module carefully, review all of the information on every page, every roll over, every scroll bar… I think you get the point.  In other words, take your time and pass the test within your first couple of tries.  If a test administrator is unable to pass the modules after two different attempts, it will be up to the district to provide further supplemental support.

2. The TEA will not be hosting any face-to-face training sessions at your local ESC.  All of the training will be hosted online.  If you feel like you have additional training needs after completing the online modules, please don’t hesitate to call on our STAAR Alternate contact, Ann Jacobson, at or 512-919-5167.

3. A decision has been made about previously taken TAKS-ALT assessments in relation to End-of-Course assessments.  According to the TEA, high school students who have previously taken TAKS-Alt assessment will be given credit for their previous TAKS-Alt participation.  The table located on page three of this document, illustrates the specific participation credits by grade, content area, and assessment.

Please contact Ann Jacobson, at or 512-919-5167, with any of your STAAR Alternate questions.