Test Security

Test security and confidentiality

Maintaining the security and confidentiality of the Texas Assessment Program is critical for ensuring fair and equal testing opportunities for all Texas students. Given the many uses of student performance data and the need to assure educators, parents, students, and the public that test results are meaningful and valid, it is imperative that all individuals participating in the Texas Assessment Program preserve the integrity of test content and student data through strict adherence to the instructions and procedures contained in these District and Campus Coordinator Resources and the test administrator manuals.

The superintendent and campus principals in each school district, the chief administrative officer of each charter school, and any private school administering tests must develop procedures to ensure the security and confidentiality of the state assessments. These administrators must also ensure that the Texas Education Agency's (TEA's) Student Assessment Division is notified in accordance with assessment program reporting requirements of any conduct that potentially violates the security or confidentiality of a test. Failure to properly report that an individual has engaged in conduct that potentially violates the security or confidentiality of a test or failure to cooperate with TEA in an investigation is itself a violation and could result in disciplinary actions.

Secure materials

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®), STAAR Spanish, STAAR Alternate 2, the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS), and TELPAS Alternate are secure testing programs, and the contents of these tests, including student information used or obtained in their administration, are confidential. This includes

  • pre-ID labels,
  • test booklets,
  • completed answer documents,
  • online assessments,
  • online session IDs,
  • STAAR Alternate 2 image cards,
  • TELPAS holistic rating,
  • TELPAS calibration activities, and
  • TELPAS Alternate observable behaviors ratings.

In addition, district testing coordinators should verify that procedures are in place to collect and promptly destroy any online test tickets and any reference materials, scratch paper, graph paper, or recordings used during the test administration.

All testing personnel who handle test materials should be aware that the materials may contain secure test content and that any viewing, discussing, or recording of this confidential information is strictly prohibited. Test administrators who have permission to view secure content in order to provide an approved designated support or as part of the program-specific test administration process must be reminded that responding to test questions, recording the information they see, scoring a test, or discussing the content of a test at any time is strictly prohibited.

Districts must ensure that all district and campus personnel who participate in state-mandated testing or handle secure test materials meet the eligibility requirements detailed in the appropriate test administration materials, have been trained at least once, and sign an Oath of Test Security and Confidentiality. Districts allowing certified or noncertified paraprofessionals (e.g., teacher aides) to access secure materials or to administer tests must identify a certified staff member who will be responsible for supervising these individuals. This person may be, for example, a supervising teacher, a campus principal or assistant principal, or a campus testing coordinator. If a violation of test security or confidentiality occurs under these circumstances, the supervising certified professional is subject to penalty.

Maintaining security of test materials

Test security involves accounting for all secure materials before, during, and after each test administration. All secure test materials must be handled in strict accordance with the instructions contained in these Coordinator Resources and the test administration manuals.

Districts and campuses must identify a suitable location where secure test material can be kept in locked storage when not in use. Access to these secure locations should be limited to no more than a few essential personnel, and these individuals should be the only people who possess keys to the storage area. District coordinators should affirm that all campuses are following these storage requirements.

Districts and campuses are required to implement the controls necessary to ensure accurate tracking of secure materials throughout each stage of all test administrations. Documents used to account for secure materials, such as the packing list that arrives with the shipments of materials from the contractor and the Materials Control Forms, should be accurately completed and carefully maintained in a location that will prevent them from being compromised. District coordinators must refer to the packing list provided by the state testing contractor and complete the following steps to maintain proper inventory of testing materials.

  1. Upon receipt from the state’s testing contractor, verify that all testing material boxes have been accounted for and match the district packing list contained in Box 1 (white box) of the shipment.
  2. Require campuses to immediately inventory all testing materials received and notify the district coordinator of any shortages or discrepancies.
  3. Immediately notify the state’s testing contractor of any discrepancies identified between the materials received and the district and campus packing lists.
  4. Place test booklets and answer documents in secure, limited-access, locked storage when not in use.
  5. Require all secure materials assigned to individual campuses be accounted for and packaged in accordance with the procedures for returning materials.
  6. Require test item image cards and all photocopies or reproductions of secure test materials be collected and returned to the district coordinator for return to the testing contractor.
  7. Maintain inventory and shipping records (e.g., bills of lading, pallet detail reports, district and campus packing lists, district-generated documents used to track the delivery of materials to and between campuses, Materials Control Forms) for five years in the event that a discrepancy arises or the receipt of the district’s materials cannot be confirmed by the testing contractor.