Spelling Assistance

TEA approval is not required logo


 Description of Designated Support

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



For a student who meets the eligibility criteria, this designated support, that is locally-approved, may be used on:

  • State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) English I and English II (written composition ONLY)

  • Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) writing ONLY (authentic classroom writing activities)


 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
  • organizes and develops 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 the student cannot apply basic spelling rules or word patterns (e.g., prefixes, suffixes) to written responses.


 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 individual accommodation plan (IAP).
  • For a student receiving special education services, the decision is made by the admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee based on the eligibility criteria and is documented in the student's individualized education program (IEP).
  • In the case of an English learner (EL) with a disability, the decision is made by the applicable group in conjunction with the student's language proficiency assessment committee (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 previously.
  • 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. For students who test online, Spelling Assistance must be enabled in the Test Attributes panel in the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE) before testing begins.



This designated support may include only

  • visual sound cards;
  • frequently misspelled word list (e.g., student-made, teacher-made, commercially produced);
  • spellcheck function on a word processor or as an online embedded support on STAAR;
  • pocket spellchecker;
  • word prediction software;
  • text-to-speech (TTS) software or devices; and
  • speech-to-text (STT) software, applications, or devices, including the use of the speech-to-text online embedded support in the Test Delivery System (TDS).


Special Instructions/Considerations

  1. The use of spelling assistance as a designated support on STAAR should not replace the teaching of spelling skills as outlined in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
  2. A student who uses this designated support may complete the test in a separate setting to eliminate distractions to other students and to ensure test confidentiality.
  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 Texas Education Agency's (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 test attribute for students who routinely type responses using a spellcheck function during classroom instruction. Prior to participating in a STAAR online operational assessment using this test attribute, 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. For STAAR online practice and released tests refer to the Practice Test Site. Information about setting up online test sessions for students who will be using this test attribute can be found in the TIDE User Guide. If an eligible student uses a different type of spelling assistance during instruction, do not register the student for this test attribute. This designated support is the only type of spelling assistance allowed during state assessments.
  5. If students need their responses transcribed onto an answer document or into the online testing platform, refer to the Basic Transcribing  policy.
  6. For TELPAS, the writing samples included in the TELPAS 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 or allowed 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 Manual. There is no need to record the accommodation in TIDE.
  7. Districts are required to have procedures in place to prevent the use of personal cell phones and electronic devices during test administrations. If a student uses TEA-allowed or TEA-approved, technology-based accommodations 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.

Supporting Resources

For assistance with test administration functions for all Texas assessments, contact Texas Testing Support at 833-601-8821 or TexasTestingSupport@cambiumassessment.com.

If you have any questions, contact the Student Assessment Division at 512-463-9536, and ask to speak with your Accommodations Task Force representative.

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