2014 STAAR Accommodations – The Three Most Important Changes


As you may know, TEA has released the allowable test accommodations for the 2013-2014 school year. The first thing that you’ll notice is that, while the Accommodations are still presented in a triangle with links to individual documents, that triangle now only has two sections: Type 1 and Type 2. This reorganization is mainly to simplify the presentation. Type 1 Accommodations are local decisions, to be made by the appropriate teams (ARD/504/RTI/other). Type 2 accommodations require an Accommodations Request Form (ARF) submission to TEA.

Below are 3 of the most important changes to the STAAR accommodations. See the entire updated page here: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/accommodations/staar-telpas/

1. Oral/Signed Administration has expanded to include a Standardized Oral Administration option for the following tests:
• grade 4 reading and mathematics
• grade 7 reading and mathematics
• grade 8 science and social studies
The Standardized Oral Administration option is a fully online version of that test with a text-to-speech option built in. The rules regarding this accommodation have not changed, though, so a student would not need this option written specifically into the IEP unless ARD committees decide it is best for that individual student.
Important Caveat: When taking the SOA, the student is exclusively in control of the level of support. Therefore, students whose IEPs indicate that they must have all of a test read to them would only be candidates for this option if those IEPs also say that the student may request an adjusted level of support.

2. Reminders to Stay on Task has been replaced by Individualized Structured Reminders.
Test administrators will now be able to give verbal reminders to any student as a part of the Optional Test Administration Procedures and Materials, whether or not that student is using accommodations on the assessment. The accommodation: Individualized Structured Reminders includes but is not limited to:
• paperclips or adhesive notes used to divide test into sections;
• more-frequent or less-frequent reminders of time left to test than required in the standard administration procedures;
• structured reminders that are part of a behavior plan;
• personal timer or clock set to remind a student to move on to the next question, page, or section or to remind a student to stop at preestablished times during the test;
• index cards that have handwritten or color-coded reminders to continue working.

3. Individual/Small Group Administration is no longer listed as an accommodation.
It will be part of the Optional Test Administration Procedures and Materials document. Since they are not accommodations, the “OTAPMs” have been moved from the accommodations page to an appendix in the 2014 District and Campus Coordinator Manual. This manual has not been posted online yet but we have been told it will be available in November.

Want more detail on these changes and others? Region 13 will be presenting a 60-minute update webinar on Friday, November 1 from  10:30-11:30. The first 45 minutes will be an update on the information that we have received. The final 15 minutes will be reserved for questions and comments. Register for the webinar here: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/290966922 If you are unable to participate at that time, the webinar will be recorded and available here http://www4.esc13.net/agc/webinars/ by Friday end-of-day.

You may view yesterday’s training powerpoint here: 2013-2014 Accommodations for SWD

STAAR Accommodations Webinar


View the RECORDED WEBINAR here: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/855830826

TEA will be presenting information on this year’s allowable accommodations for the STAAR assessment this afternoon. For those who cannot make it, Region 13 will be presenting a 60-minute update webinar on Friday, November 1 from  10:30-11:30. The first 45 minutes will be an update on the information that we get this afternoon. The final 15 minutes will be reserved for questions and comments.

To view the live webinar on Friday, follow the link at the top of this page. All you will need to enter is your name and email address.

If you are unable to participate at that time, the webinar will be recorded and available here http://www4.esc13.net/agc/webinars/ by Friday end-of-day.

Testing Accommodations for SWD – TEA TETN

Date: October 30, 2013
Title: Testing Accommodations for SWD
Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Audience: Open to ESCs and districts
Event#: 21421
Summary:  This TETN will serve as the state-level training for regions, districts, and campuses regarding statewide assessment accommodation policies for students with disabilities (SWD).  Presenters will discuss where to find accommodation information, how to determine student eligibility for accommodations, and how to document accommodation decisions and use. Questions will need to be routed through ESCs and will be answered as time allows.
Contact:  TEA’s Student Assessment Division: Assessments for Special Populations

Guiding Document- Including AT in the IEP (How are YOU documenting AT?)

QIATWhat’s happening out there?  I’ve recently received a lot of questions from all over about how to document AT in the IEP. I wondered about why I was getting this question so frequently this year but hadn’t in previous years?  Well, after a little digging, it looks like some of the ARD/IEP software programs districts are using have updated their pages regarding AT consideration and need.  What’s nice is that they’re using IDEA language related to AT thereby increasing our chances for compliance and clarity.  What’s confusing is that this is different than we’ve been used to. Fortunately, the gurus at QIAT have developed a guidance document on this issue of documenting AT in the IEP to meet IDEA mandates.

Do I think we need to document exactly as the QIAT examples indicate?  No.  But, I do think that this does a nice job of differentiating the types and purposes of AT available.  How is your district documenting AT?  As we move towards the discontinuation of STAAR M in 2014-15 the appropriate selection and implementation of accommodations/AT will be ever the more important as more students will need supports.  Having good documentation about what, when and how supports will be provided will be critical.

Understand the Critical Role of Oral Language in Reading for Your Title I and ELL Students

Free webinar from Education Week, may also be of interest to Special Educators:

This event takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, 3 to 4 p.m. ET.

Research has shown that oral language has a profound impact on children’s preparedness for kindergarten and on their success throughout their academic career. Children typically enter school with a wide range of background knowledge and oral-language ability, attributable in part to factors such as children’s experiences in the home and their socioeconomic status. As a result, Title I and English-language-learner subgroups typically face a gap in academic ability that tends to persist or grow throughout their school experience.

Learn from two administrators—Pam Howard and Shawn Parkhurst—about their strategies for oral language development, which include a focus on foundational comprehension and vocabulary to address students who lack exposure to English language and have limited background experiences.


Pam Howard, assistant superintendent, special education, El Paso Independent School District, El Paso, Texas

Shawn Parkhurst, assistant superintendent, curriculum and instruction, Wallingford public schools, Wallingford, Conn.

This webinar will be moderated by Liz Crawford-Brooke, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, vice president, education and research, Lexia Learning.

Register HERE: https://vts.inxpo.com/scripts/Server.nxp?LASCmd=AI:4;F:QS!10100&ShowKey=16641&partnerref=eblast

Algebra Tiles Video Series

Here is the first video in our Algebra Tile Video Series.  During this series we will show you how to use Algebra tiles as a concrete tool that will support students as they learn how to add polynomials, subtract polynomials, and multiply polynomials as well as other topics.

If you would like the opportunity to work hands-on with Algebra tiles and other manipulatives, please consider joining us for “Manipulating” Your Teaching Practice on October 23. Register through ecampus (workshop ID FA1326521).

Evaluating Accommodations

At this point in the school year, teachers may be ready to begin evaluating students’ accommodations for effectiveness, frequency of use, and student preference. TEA has not released updated assessment accommodations yet, but teachers should be working closely with special education case managers to determine which accommodations work for students during classroom instruction.

The PAR framework for selecting appropriate oral administration accommodations can be very useful for teachers trying to determine whether a student with a reading disability performs better with an oral reader, a text reader, or reading independently. More information about the PAR framework is here: http://donjohnston.com/par/.

Region 13 has adapted the PAR approach into a simple process that can be used for evaluating any accommodation. This process involves:

  • Establish a Baseline
    measure quantitative student performance on a task without the accommodations.
  • Introduce one variable
    let the student try a very similar task with the primary accommodation in question.
  • Introduce other variables
    let the student try the task with as many different accommodations as you wish to evaluate, changing only one thing at a time.
  • Collect student feedback
    Use an appropriate student feedback tool to gather information on student preference.
  • Present at ARD
    Bring your data to the ARD committee for review.

For a printable version of this form, complete with an example, click here: Accurate Accommodations

This final decision-making form takes a broader picture of student needs, strengths, weaknesses, and areas of interest: Accommodations Decision Making Process It is part of the free Accommodations Decision Making online training that we blogged about here: http://www5.esc13.net/thescoop/special/2013/10/01/accommodations-decision-making-free-online-course/

Thank you for all of the thought and care you put into making these crucial instructional decisions.


IT – AT Shared Knowledge on Legal Issues

Here are four resources for consideration as you try to provide technology to meet the needs of ALL students!

  1. Legal Issues Impacting Student Device Programs
  2. Providing Assistive Technology: A Legal Perspective
  3. Top 10 Technology-Related Issues in Special Education
  4. Purchasing Accessible Instructional Materials- Quick Reference Guide

Take aways- Curriculum coordinators, instructional materials purchasers, IT, and assistive technology teams MUST collaborate.  It’s a matter of preventing legal/compliance issues;  being fiscally responsible; addressing civil rights (accessible materials) and working smarter!