New STAAR Alternate 2 Participation Requirements Take Effect May 1, 2018!

In a TETN presentation on April 25, 2018, new STAAR Alternate 2 participation requirements for the 2019 administration were announced.  The newly revised Participation Requirements take effect May 1, 2018.  They include changes to the number of requirements (there are now five instead of four), and clarifying language that defines a significant cognitive disability. The participation requirements state that a determination of significant cognitive disability is made by the ARD committee and based on an evaluation performed by a qualified evaluation team.  The disability must significantly impact the student’s intellectual potential AND adaptive behavior and be documented in the student’s individualized education program (IEP).

Clarifying language and examples have been added to paint a more complete picture of what “specialized, extensive supports” and “intensive, individualized instruction” may look like for a student with a significant cognitive disability when accessing the grade-level curriculum and setting.  Additionally, the language of the previous participation requirement which states that students taking the STAAR Alternate 2 must access and participate in the grade-level TEKS through prerequisite skills has been expanded to include descriptions of how a student with a significant cognitive disability is most likely to access those prerequisite skills during instruction.  The participation requirement now states that a student with a significant cognitive disability accessing the TEKS through prerequisite skills that are “significantly below grade level instruction” requires “a highly specialized educational program with intensive supports and modifications to the curriculum.”

The newly added, fifth participation requirement has been pulled from the previous assurances section to emphasize that the STAAR Alternate 2 assessment determination must be based on the student’s significant cognitive disability and not on any other factors such as racial or economic background, excessive absences, location of service delivery, English learner status or anticipated difficulties with student behavior.

Beginning on May 1, 2018, admission, review and dismissal (ARD) committees will use the new STAAR Alternate 2 participation requirements for determining assessment decisions for the 2018-19 school year.  ARD committees that used the previous participation requirements for the 2018-19 assessment decisions prior to May 1st, 2018 may move forward with assessment decisions they have already made.  However, TEA recommends that campus personnel review the new participation requirements and determine if revisions should be made to previous assessment decisions.

The review and revision of the participation requirements is part of TEA’s response to state assessment requirement in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Any state assessing more than 1% of students with an alternate assessment aligned with alternate academic achievement standards is required to submit an annual waiver application.  The Texas plan and waiver for this year was approved.  While the 1 percent rate is a statewide requirement, LEAs above the rate may expect additional oversight and support from TEA’s Student Assessment Division.

Visit TEA’s website or click on the following link to view the new 2018-19 STAAR Alternate 2 Participation Requirements.

For more information, please contact TEA’s Student Assessment Division at assessment.specialpopulations@tea.texas.gov  or ESC Region 13 Education Specialist, Jennifer Russell, at jennifer.russell@esc13.txed.net

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