Technology Guide FAQs

Secure Browser Installation and Updates - General

Q: What version of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) Online Testing Platform (SOTP) Secure Browser is required for STAAR online testing?

A: Secure Browser versions vary by operating system (OS). Current versions required for STAAR testing for the 2020–2021 Interim and summative assessments are as follows:

  • 3.19.0 for Windows, Mac OS and Linux based devices

  • 2.65.0 (1.32 in Chrome web store) for Chromebooks

  • 2.80.0 (2.73 in Apple store) for iPads

Reference the Secure Browser Application page for the latest information on SOTP Secure Browser version numbers and general announcements.

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Q: ­Will new versions of the SOTP Secure Browsers be automatically installed instead of the need to uninstall old versions before updating to newer versions?

A: While ETS makes all attempts to allow for automatic updates to the SOTP Secure Browser, there are times when it is necessary to first uninstall the prior version before installing the latest updated version. 

Updating to the current SOTP Secure Browser version 3.19 for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux requires an uninstall of any prior installed version of the software. The current SOTP Secure Browser version 2.80.0 for iOS also requires an uninstall of a prior version before installing the latest iOS 2.80.0 version. Version 2.65.0 for Chromebooks will automatically update. 

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Q: ­Will the current SOTP Secure Browser versions be available through spring testing or will there be a new version coming out before then?

A: ­The current versions are expected to be used through June 2021 testing. The only time an unexpected update will be required is if there is an update to an OS that requires an update to the SOTP Secure Browser for support. 

Any updates to the SOTP Secure Browsers will be communicated to districts in advance.

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Q: Where do I find the updated SOTP Secure Browsers?

A: The current SOTP Secure Browsers needed for both Interim and summative testing for the 2020–2021 school year are available for download at http://texasassessment.gov/administrators/technology/ or may be downloaded from the Secure Browser Application page.

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Q: How do I determine which SOTP Secure Browser version is currently installed?

A: The version number is identified in the bottom left corner of the screen after you launch the application and select either the summative or Interim login page.

Secure Browser Installation and Updates - WINDOWS

Q: Is Windows 10 supported?

A: Yes. Windows 10 versions 1803, 1809, 1903, 1909 are supported; however, Windows 10 S is not currently supported. Reference the Unified Minimum Systems Requirements document for a full list of supported OSs and system requirements.

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Q: When will support for Windows 7 end?

A: Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015, and extended support ended January 14, 2020. ETS ended support for Windows 7 devices after the 2019–2020 school year. 

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Q: Will there be a version of the Windows installer that removes all previous versions and then installs the latest?

A: While the goal is to release a version of the desktop SOTP Secure Browser that will automatically update with all releases, due to significant changes to accessibility features offered, this has not been possible.

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Q: ­Does the SOTP Secure Browser support MSI silent deployments? 

A: Yes.

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Q: ­Did the ProductCode and UpgradeCode in the MSI installer change between SOTP Secure Browser versions 3.14 and 3.19?

A: No. The codes did not change with the release of v3.19, however the file name has changed to reflect the latest version number should you need to distinguish from a prior installer package.

Secure Browser Installation and Updates - CHROME

Q: Does the Chrome OS version installed matter? ­

A: Yes. The SOTP Secure Browser only supports the previous nine stable releases of Chrome OS. ­

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Q: Where can I find information on configuring the Chromebook STAAR Kiosk App? ­

A: Section 3.2 Chromebook Installation of the STAAR Online Testing Platform Technology Guide contains information on setting up devices in Kiosk mode.

Secure Browser Installation and Updates - MAC

Q: ­Why do the MAC OS requirements say you "Must use Managed Installation?" Are you requiring everyone to use an MDM?

A: ­Yes. This is an Apple requirement.

Secure Browser Installation and Updates - iPad

Q: ­Are there plans to support iOS 14 once it is released­?

A: The v2.80.0 Secure Browser for iOS released on July 20, 2020 does not support iOS 14.  iOS 13 is recommended when possible and still listed along with iOS 12 as officially supported versions in the Unified Minimum Systems Requirements. SOTP Secure Browser v2.80.0 for iOS is required whether running iOS 12 or iOS 13. However once iOS 14 is released in Beta, ETS will evaluate and update districts on their ability to test with iPads running iOS 14. 

Device Setup and Preparation

Q: Can the practice tests be used to test device readiness ahead of testing?

A: Yes. All practice tests have been set up to work only with the most current  browser. Practice tests, tutorials, and Interim assessments require the same updated SOTP Secure Browser needed for summative testing. Any of these may be used to verify that your devices are set up properly ahead of summative online testing.  Reference the Secure Browser Application page to view and download the most current application versions.

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Q: Should automatic updates to OS and other applications be disabled before testing? ­

A: ­Yes. It is recommended to disable all updates to OS and other applications on devices that will be used for testing once the devices are determined to be working until the end of the test administration.

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Q: ­Is it possible to let districts know when subnet IP address is changed - we have had problems with our district firewall blocking in the past when changes are made? ­

A: ETS recommends that districts configure their firewalls by URL and not by IP.  The URLs for both the Assessment Management System and the SOTP do not change; however, the underlying IP addresses may change from time to time for a variety of reasons. Reference section 1.7 Network Configurations of the STAAR Online Testing Platform Technology Guide for more information.

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Q: Do testers need to have administrative rights on the computers to take the test? 

A: ­No. Students do not need administrative rights. Any tester with access to the SOTP Secure Browser and valid test login credentials can take a test.

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Q: Are there any caching platforms available for this testing software? 

A: Local Caching Software (LCS) is available, however, it is only recommended in instances where there is extremely poor or unreliable internet connectivity. Reference the STAAR Online Testing Platform Local Caching Software LCS) District Guide for more information.

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Q: ­Is Port 80 required to be open for STAAR or will Port 443 be enough?

A: ­Port 443 is sufficient unless you are using the LCS.

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Q: ­If a student is logged out due to inactivity, will their responses be saved?

A: Yes. Student responses, whether the student was logged out by the system due to inactivity or the student logged out prior to submission, are saved. Student responses are saved to the server every 20 seconds.  After three consecutive failed attempts to contact the server the student will be logged out, so it is possible that up to one minute of progress may not be saved if Internet connectivity is lost.

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Q: ­In the past there have been login issues when STAAR testing begins, presumably because of the numerous requests hitting the servers at the same time.  Are the STAAR servers optimized and configured for redundancy so no login issues would arise from numerous requests hitting the server at the same time?

A: ­The largest bandwidth consumption occurs at the time of test login. The servers deployed for STAAR testing are tested at three times the maximum expected concurrent testing rates and are capable of scaling up as necessary.

While no systemic login issues were experienced during the 2018-2019 STAAR administrations or the December 2019 EOC administration, it is possible that local network environments, such as those with limited bandwidth, may lead to initial login issues. It is recommended that districts with local bandwidth concerns stagger student logins to minimize bandwidth consumption during login.

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Q: ­Often we have had to do multiple sound tests before hearing anything through headphones during the sound check in the SOTP. We have always checked for sound prior to launch. Is there an issue with USB headphones as opposed to 3.5” traditional headphones? ­

A: ­No. USB versus 3.5” traditional headphones should not cause any issues. The SOTP application relies on the device volume settings and only adjusts the system volume as set on the device prior to launching the SOTP Secure Browser. Device settings should be checked prior to launching the SOTP Secure Browser to ensure that the volume on the device is not muted or set too low.

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Q: Do headphones work during testing on an iPad? ­

A: ­Yes, but you must connect your headphones and ensure that the volume is turned up on your device before launching the SOTP.

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Q: Are there any recommendations for headphones? 

A: There are no specific recommendations for headphones. Reference a the Unified Minimum System Requirements for more information.

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Q: Do students need microphones for the STAAR tests?

A: Speech-to-text functionality will be available for the STAAR tests as an accommodation beginning with the 2020 December EOC administration. Students assigned the speech-to-text PNP will need a microphone to use the functionality. ETS has aligned the microphone requirements with those for TELPAS Listening & Speaking. Districts planning purchases for microphones can refer to the headphone requirements identified in the Unified Minimum System Requirements.

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Q: ­How can our technology department get in touch directly with people who can address their technology-specific questions?

A: It is necessary to first contact Tier 1 support at the Texas Assessment Support Center to log the service call. Once the question is escalated to the Tier 2 technical support team, a Tier 2 technical support representative will work directly with you and your technology staff to answer questions and help resolve issues.

Texas Assessment Support Center Contact Information:

Phone: 855-333-7770

Email: STAAR3-8@ets.org

          STAAREOC@ets.org






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