Spelling Assistance

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 Description of Designated Support

This designated support provides various types of spelling assistance for a student with a disability.

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 Assessments

For a student who meets the eligibility criteria, this designated support may be used on

  • STAAR grades 4 and 7 writing, English I, English II, and English III (written composition ONLY)
  • STAAR Spanish grade 4 writing (written composition ONLY)

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 Student Eligibility Criteria

A student may use this designated support if that student

  • receives Section 504 or special education services;
  • routinely, independently, and effectively uses it during classroom instruction and classroom testing; and
  • is capable of organizing and developing ideas and understands the basic function and use of written language conventions (e.g., sentence structures, irregular verbs) but has a disability that is so severe that student cannot apply basic spelling rules or word patterns (e.g., silent letters, base words with affixes) to written responses.

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 Authority for Decision and Required Documentation

  • For a student receiving Section 504 services, the decision is made by the Section 504 committee based on the eligibility criteria and is documented in the student’s IAP.
  • For a student receiving special education services, the decision is made by the ARD committee based on the eligibility criteria and is documented in the student’s IEP.
  • In the case of an EL with a disability, the decision is made by the applicable group above in conjunction with the student’s LPAC. The decision is to be documented by the LPAC in the student’s permanent record file and by the other applicable group, as described above.
  • After state testing, EE must be recorded in the ACCOMM. field on the student’s answer document. This indicates that an allowable designated support was made available to the student. This embedded support is automatically recorded in the Assessment Management System.

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 Examples/Types

This designated support may include only

  • visual sound cards
  • frequently misspelled word list (e.g., student-made, teacher-made, commercially produced)
  • spell-check function on a word processor or as an online embedded support on STAAR
  • pocket spell-checker
  • word-prediction software
  • text-to-speech software or devices 
  • speech-to-text software, applications, or devices, including the use of the online embedded support on the STAAR online testing platform (SOTP)

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Special Instructions/Considerations

  1. A student who uses this designated support may complete the test in a separate setting to eliminate distractions to other students and to ensure the confidentiality of the test.
  2. The use of spelling assistance as a designated support on STAAR should not replace the teaching of spelling skills as outlined in the TEKS.
  3. Dictionaries are a required part of standard test administration procedures for some state assessments. For more information, refer to the STAAR Dictionary Policy on TEA’s STAAR Resources webpage. For these assessments, any spelling assistance listed in the Examples/Types section may be provided, along with the required dictionary, to a student who meets the eligibility criteria.
  4. An online spelling assistance embedded support is available as a Personal Needs and Preferences (PNP) option for students who routinely type responses using a spell check function during classroom instruction. Prior to participating in the STAAR online operational assessment using this PNP, students and teachers should become familiar with the embedded supports and various tools that are provided in the online tests in order to determine appropriateness for a particular student’s needs. There are several resources that can be accessed on TEA's website, including the STAAR online tutorials and released tests. Information about setting up online test sessions for students who will be using this PNP can be found in the STAAR Assessment Management System User’s Guide. If an eligible student uses a different type of spelling assistance during instruction, do not register the student for this PNP. 
  5. If a student needs his or her typed response transcribed onto an answer document or into the online testing platform, refer to the Basic Transcribing policy.
  6. The writing samples included in grades 2–12 writing collections come from authentic classroom activities. Therefore, the same accommodations routinely used during classroom instruction for a student who meets the eligibility criteria for Spelling Assistance are acceptable for the writing samples used in a TELPAS writing collection. Note that the samples chosen to be included in a TELPAS writing collection must still adhere to the guidelines listed in the TELPAS Rater ManualThere is no need to record the accommodation code in the Assessment Management System.
  7. Districts are required to have procedures in place to prevent the use of personal cell phones and electronic devices during test administrations. If TEA-allowed or -approved, technology-based accommodations are used by a student during testing, TEA guidelines on the use of this technology must be followed in order to maintain the security and validity of the assessment. Although some technology may be very useful during a daily academic setting, technology that has functionality that violates TEA guidelines cannot be used during a state assessment. These technology guidelines for state assessments can be found on the Accommodation Resources webpage.

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