October 2017 Student Assessment Newsletter

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Texas Education Agency

Student Assessment Newsletter

Office of Academics

October 2017

Texas Map with TEA Logo

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Hurricane Harvey Update

As Texas continues to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has created a resource center on its website to centralize all hurricane-related information for school districts. The website can be found at https://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Other_Services/Weather_and_Disaster/Hurricane_Harvey_Resources/. It includes all TEA hurricane-related correspondence and announcements, information on waivers and extensions, school nutrition information, and detailed answers to frequently asked questions. In addition, the agency recently sent a survey to superintendents in the declared disaster areas regarding the impact of Hurricane Harvey. Executive leadership at the agency will review the survey results prior to making any additional decisions. However, students will still need to take required state assessments. To track students affected by Hurricane Harvey, districts will need to complete the AGENCY USE field on the answer document. More information regarding completing this field will be sent in the future.  

Changes for the Student Assessment Division

In case you haven’t heard, there have been several changes for the Student Assessment Division. First, there is a new Executive Director of the division. Deborah Sauberer has joined the team and comes to the division from Tennessee with 20 years of assessment experience. Second, the assessment division, as well as other divisions in the Office of Academics, have been reorganized. Many of the content staff have moved to the Curriculum Division, and some of the reporting staff have moved to the Performance Reporting Division. You can see some of these changes in our new contact information at http://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/contacts/. Finally, we are starting this division newsletter to keep you more informed of what’s happening with the Texas Assessment Program and what’s coming soon. The newsletter will be published periodically to correspond with test administrations and other important times during the school year. The next newsletter is scheduled for January 2018 around the beginning of the spring semester. You can find the newsletter posted in the What’s New in Student Assessment section of our website at http://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/, as well as in the assessment correspondence with districts section at http://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/correspondence/.

Interim and Formative Assessments

TEA has been working to develop its new interim assessment system. The first phase will be released in spring 2018. The system will feature online multi-stage adaptive tests for mathematics and reading in grades 3–8. The optional interim assessments will be fully aligned to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) and available to districts at no cost. Interim assessments will be delivered through the STAAR Online Testing Platform. More information and details will be made available in the coming months. TEA will also be providing a presentation on interim assessments during the Texas Assessment Conference in November.

The new formative assessment system will be released in fall 2018. It will be delivered through the Texas Gateway. More information and details will be made available in the future.

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Changes in Rule and Legislation

TAKS Graduation Requirement Rules

Proposed amendments to Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §101.3024 and 101.4003 are being finalized. These rules allow alternate paths to meet assessment graduation requirements for former Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) examinees, including former Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) and Texas Educational Assessment of Minimal Skills (TEAMS) examinees. The rules include a list of alternate assessments former examinees can take in place of TAKS. The adopted rules should be effective in October. You can find more information on these rules at http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Laws_and_Rules/Commissioner_Rules_(TAC)/Commissioner_of_Education_Rules_-_Texas_Administrative_Code/.

Security Supplement Rule Posted for Public Comment

The proposed rule, TAC §101.3031, will be posted for public comment later this month. This rule adopts the Test Security Supplement into administrative code. You can find the proposed rule (when it is posted) at http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Laws_and_Rules/Commissioner_Rules_(TAC)/Proposed_Commissioner_of_Education_Rules/.

STAAR Alternate 2 Waiver Request

Texas is requesting a waiver from the United States Education Department (USED) to exceed the 1.0 percent threshold on the percentage of students statewide who participate in alternate assessments aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS), i.e., STAAR Alternate 2, for the 2017–2018 school year. TEA will be contacting some districts within the next few weeks to assist with the waiver process. The waiver request will be published in the Texas Register for public comment during the month of November. Once the agency has gathered district information and public comment, it will submit Texas’ request for a waiver to the USED in December.

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Test Administration Updates

Removal of Test Booklet Seals

Beginning in spring 2018, test booklets for the Texas Assessment Program will no longer include seals. For test booklets that contain more than one subject (e.g., mathematics and reading), there will be additional indicators (e.g., large stop signs) in the test booklets so that the students do not continue into the next subject-area test.

Change in Test Policy for Contaminated Materials

TEA is changing its policy on the collection of test booklets and answer documents that have human contaminants (e.g., vomit, blood, etc.). We will no longer require district staff to return the test booklets and/or answer documents to the contractor. Instead, the district will be required to securely dispose of the contaminated materials. This updated policy will be included in test administration materials for spring 2018.

TELPAS Tutorial

New online student tutorials for the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) will be available in November. This is a few months earlier than originally scheduled. The new tutorials will help prepare students for the TELPAS reading test and the redesigned TELPAS listening and speaking test. The purpose of the tutorials is to give students practice with the online interface and tools and to become familiar with a variety of test item formats.

Technology Updates

From ETS:

  • Districts now have the option to upload participation counts via a comma separated value (CSV) file instead of manual entry.
  • Districts will be able to view and track campus-level initial materials and precode shipments.
  • Districts will be able to release campus-level reports downstream to campuses.

From Pearson:

  • Creating test sessions is no longer required for entering student responses for STAAR Alternate 2. 
  • Chromebooks will now be supported for use on the TELPAS listening and speaking assessment. 
  • A headset test is now available for districts to test headsets prior to the TELPAS listening and speaking assessment. This test is located in the TestNav app under Practice Tests.
  • A new download.testnav.com page is being redesigned to auto-detect TestNav compatibility. 

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Posted Information

Below is a list of information that has been or will soon be posted to the Student Assessment website: http://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/.

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The Crunch—Upcoming Events and Interesting Numbers

The following is a list of events coming up in the next few months.

  • Texas Assessment Conference, November 5–8, Austin
  • December 2017 STAAR English I End-of-Course Assessment, Monday, December 4
  • December 2017 STAAR English II End-of-Course Assessment, Wednesday, December 6
  • December 2017 STAAR Algebra I, Biology, and U.S. History End-of-Course Assessments, December 4–8

The following are some interesting numbers from the 2016–2017 school year.

  • 10,479,082—the total number of individual STAAR tests administered
  • 1,034,105—the total number of STAAR tests administered online
  • 32—the percent increase in the number of STAAR online testers
  • 116,780—the total number of individual STAAR Alternate 2 tests administered
  • 1,676,894—the total number of individual TELPAS tests administered

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Communication from Contractors

Below is a list of email communications from ETS and Pearson regarding the Texas Assessment Program. The dates listed are approximations and subject to change. Underlined communications are from Pearson; the others are from ETS.

  • TELPAS Listening and Speaking Headset Test—10/02/17
  • April 2018 STAAR 3–8 and EOC Participation Counts—10/04/17
  • STAAR Alternate 2 Enrollment Collection Email—10/23/17
  • STAAR Infrastructure Readiness for Online Testing—10/23/17
  • May 2018 STAAR 3–8 and EOC (incl. Algebra II and English III) Participation Counts—10/23/17
  • April 2018 STAAR 3–8 and EOC Participation Count Reminder—10/27/17
  • December 2016 STAAR EOC Administration Deactivation—10/30/17
  • Invitation to Fall 2017 Webinar Trainings for the STAAR Assessment Management System—11/01/17
  • STAAR Alternate 2 Enrollment Collection Email Reminder—11/01/17
  • December 2017 STAAR EOC Material Shipments—11/06/17
  • May 2018 STAAR 3–8 and EOC (incl. Algebra II and English III) Participation Counts Reminder11/10/17
  • TELPAS Data Collection Options Email—11/13/17
  • December 2017 STAAR EOC Additional Orders Reminder11/15/17
  • December 2017 STAAR Specific Braille Instructions and Transcribable Grid Sheets11/17/17
  • April and May 2018 STAAR EOC OOD/OOS Test Site Directory Updates11/17/17
  • December 2017 STAAR Administration Additional Reports Ordering—11/27/17
  • December 2017 STAAR Online Testing Information11/27/17
  • December 2017 STAAR EOC Resolve Student Test Warning and Record Changes12/18/17
  • December 2017 STAAR EOC Return of Scorable Materials12/19/17

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Table of Contents


TEA Student Assessment Website


Contact Us


(512) 463-9536
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701-1494

ETS Texas Assessment Support Center: (855) 333-7770

Pearson Customer Service Center: (800) 627-0225