STAAR Dictionary Policy

Dictionaries must be available to all students taking the following STAAR assessments: grades 3–8 RLA, Spanish grades 3–5 RLA, English I, and English II. A dictionary tool appropriate for these tests and that fulfills this requirement is available for student use in the online testing platform.

For students testing online with access to an additional dictionary or students testing on paper, the following information applies.

District- or Student-Supplied Dictionaries

  • Districts may provide dictionaries, or students may bring them from home.

  • To the extent allowable, students should be provided or allowed to use the same type of dictionary during testing that they routinely use in the classroom. Providing an unfamiliar dictionary on the day of the state assessment may hinder rather than aid the student.

  • The following types of dictionaries are allowable:

    • standard monolingual dictionaries in English or the language most appropriate for the student

    • dictionary/thesaurus combinations

    • bilingual dictionaries*

    • English as a second language (ESL) dictionaries* (defines English words using simplified English)

    • sign language dictionaries

    • picture dictionaries

    • electronic dictionaries

  • One dictionary for each student taking these assessments is recommended. There must be a minimum of one dictionary for every five students testing.

  • Thesauruses are allowed, either in combination with a dictionary or as a separate resource, but they are not required. If provided, there should be one thesaurus for every five students taking these assessments.

  • Additional sections of a dictionary (e.g., abbreviations, biographical or geographical entries, style or grammar guides) do not have to be restricted, as they are included in the dictionaries routinely used in the classroom.

  • For electronic dictionaries, including apps, all internet capabilities must be disabled for use during testing. In addition, the dictionary app being used must be locked down or in kiosk mode to prevent the use of other apps during testing. Refer to the Technology Guidelines page for more information regarding the security and validity of the assessments.

  • Specialty dictionaries such as teacher-made, student-made, subject-specific, or slang dictionaries are not allowed.

*A bilingual or ESL dictionary should be provided based on the individual student’s needs and how much the student uses it during classroom instruction and testing. It is important for LPACs to consider the degree to which an emergent bilingual student relies on a dictionary during instruction and testing when making reclassification decisions.