Frequently Asked Questions About Test Administrations

General

1. What testing requirements exist regarding state assessments?

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®), STAAR Alternate 2, and Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) assessments are required by state law to be offered by school systems. State law also requires that students take the assessments. Refer to Texas Education Code (TEC) §39.023 and §39.027.

Additionally, STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, TELPAS, and TELPAS Alternate fulfill federal assessment and accountability requirements as established in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA requires that students be assessed in mathematics and reading annually in grades 3–8 and once in high school. Refer to ESEA §1111(b)(2)(B).

More information on these requirements is available on the State and Federal Required Assessments Fact Sheet.

2. How can a student who receives remote instruction under the local remote learning program in TEC §29.9091 be administered a state assessment?

To ensure equity for all students participating in the Texas Assessment Program, state-required assessments are administered in person at monitored testing sessions, which are supervised by a trained test administrator. Most STAAR administrations have two-week testing windows to give districts more flexibility in scheduling assessments and more opportunity to test all eligible students. To ensure there are sufficient opportunities to test all eligible students, the testing window for STAAR Alternate 2 is a five-week window, and the testing windows for TELPAS and TELPAS Alternate are six weeks.

3. What alternative testing locations may a district use for the Texas Assessment Program?

Districts may set up alternative testing sites at locations other than the home campus, such as performing arts centers, recreational centers, or any other site supervised by a trained test administrator where the district can ensure equitable access and maintain test security. All of the following test administration guidelines must still be followed: 

  • There must be at least one trained test administrator for every 30 students. 

  • Sufficient time to complete the test must be ensured for every student.

  • Sufficient Internet bandwidth must be ensured for all students.

4. Who can be a test administrator for the Texas Assessment Program?

Any district staff member may serve as a test administrator if they hold valid education credentials (e.g., a Texas educator certificate or permit) or if they are supervised by a district staff member who holds valid education credentials. All district and campus personnel who participate in state-required testing or who handle or have access to secure test materials must be trained at least once in test security and administration procedures and must have signed an Oath of Test Security and Confidentiality

5. When is the secure browser required for online testing?

The secure browser is required for summative tests. Districts can administer practice and interim tests using the secure browser or a supported web browser.


6. When can an online test session be created?

Online test sessions may be created up to three weeks before the start of the administration. Test sessions may also be created at any point during the administration. Refer to the Calendar of Events for specific dates when online test sessions may be created.

7.  How often are the reports available through the Monitoring Test Progress module in the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE) updated?

Test Completion Rates reports are updated nightly.

The following reports are updated in near-real time:

  • Plan and Manage Testing

  • Search Students by TSDS ID

  • Test Status Code Report

  • Test Session Status Report

Monitoring Test Progress Module in TIDE

Test opportunities that have been started by an individual student will also be displayed in the Student Participation panel in the student’s individual record in TIDE. The test name, session ID, and test status are available for each testing opportunity a student has started or completed.

If the test administrator is using a live proctored session, the information on the dashboard is updated in real time.

8. How can a teacher access his or her students’ test results?

A teacher can access his or her students’ test results through the Centralized Reporting System (CRS). To facilitate teacher access, the district will need to submit a roster of students associated with that teacher.

9. Which students are classified as “New to Texas”?

Any student who transfers from another state or country directly into a Texas public school district or open-enrollment charter school during the current school year (August 1–July 31) is considered new to Texas, and districts should select “New to Texas” in TIDE.

For new students who take STAAR end-of-course (EOC) assessments, districts only need to indicate that the students are new to Texas for the first administration.

Score Codes

10. What score code should a district use for a student who is not tested?

Both state and federal law require that students enrolled in public school districts and open enrollment charter schools take the STAAR assessment in order to measure their understanding of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Students are required to participate, and districts are required to provide a testing opportunity for students. 

As all eligible students must be accounted for, the district should enter a score code in the Appeals/Score Codes module in TIDE according to the following criteria:

  • If a student is absent for the entire testing window, use “A” for Absent.

  • If a student is present but is not tested, use either “S” or “O” depending on the specific scenario:

    • For students taking a STAAR grade 3–8 assessment, use “S” for Score.

    • For students taking a STAAR EOC assessment for the first time, use “S” for Score.

    • For students taking a STAAR EOC retest in spring or December, use “O” for Other.

    • For students taking a STAAR EOC retest in June, an unopened test will automatically be voided at the end of the testing window.

    • For students taking a STAAR Alternate 2 assessment, use “S” for Score.

    • For students taking a TELPAS assessment, use “S” for Score.

    • For students taking TELPAS Alternate, use “S” for Score.

For more information refer to the Enter Student Information into TIDE section.

11. What score code should a district use for a student who is homebound and cannot test?

In general, use “A” for Absent. Use “O” for Other if the student is able to participate in instruction but not in testing. The district testing coordinator may be able to request a medical exclusion for this student to remove the student from the district’s accountability calculations. For more information on a medical exclusion, refer to the STAAR Participation Requirements section.

12. What score code should a district use for a student who is suspended?

If a student is suspended during the entire testing window, enter an “A” for Absent in the Appeals/Score Codes module in TIDE. However, most suspensions last 1–3 days, so it is likely that a suspended student will still be able to test during the testing window.

13. What score code should a district use for a student who has been expelled?

In many cases, if a student has been moved to an alternate campus, disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP), or juvenile justice alternative education program (JJAEP), the student should test there. Refer to the Online Administrations in Alternative Education Settings section.

If the student is no longer enrolled in the district, then use the Create Requests task in the Appeals/Score Codes module in TIDE. The Do Not Report option should be used to remove an online test record. If the student is still enrolled in the district but not able to test, use “A” for Absent.

14. What score code should a district use for a student who is unable to finish testing?

The district must determine whether the student’s score code should be “O” for Other or “S” for Score. If the test should be scored, districts do not need to do anything. An “S” score code will be automatically applied at the end of the administration without requiring further action by the student or district. To submit an “O” code, enter it in the Appeals/Score Codes module in TIDE.

15. What score code should a district use for an asylee/refugee who qualifies for an exemption from taking a STAAR grades 3–8 assessment?

Enter an “O” for Other score code in the Appeals/Score Codes module in TIDE.

Accessibility

16. Do districts need to record accommodations if students did not use them?

Yes. Districts should record the accommodation that is documented and made available to a student even if the student did not use the accommodation during testing. This includes accommodations that are made available to a student in an unexpected or emergency situation. Districts should enter the accommodation in the appropriate fields in TIDE according to the directions included in the Enter Student Information into TIDE section.

17. Do districts need to record the use of accessibility features?

No. There is no need to document the use of accessibility features.  

18. What should a district do if an accommodation has been incorrectly provided to a student (e.g., providing a calculator to a grade 7 student taking a mathematics assessment)?

If the student is still testing, the test administrator should remove or disable the accommodation and allow the student to complete the test. The test should be submitted, and a procedural testing irregularity form for an accommodation error should be completed. If the student has completed and submitted the test, a procedural testing irregularity form should be completed. This form can be accessed through the Submit a Form task in the Administration and Security Forms module in TIDE.

19. What should a district do if it fails to provide an online accommodation to a student that is required by his or her individualized education program (IEP)?

If the error is discovered while the student is testing, the error may be able to be fixed, and the student will be able to continue testing with the required accommodation.

The following accommodations can be turned on using the test attributes screen. The student will need to log out, log back in, and then apply the appropriate attribute.

  • customized zoom level

  • color setting

  • large mouse pointer

The following accommodations can be turned on in TIDE by district testing staff. The student will need to log out, then log back in after the accommodation has been turned on in TIDE. 

  • text-to-speech (TTS)

  • auto TTS

  • speech-to-text (STT)

  • basic calculator

  • spelling assistance

  • permissive mode

The following accommodations can be turned on in TIDE by district testing staff if the student has not answered five or more questions. The student will need to log out, the test will need to be reset by district testing staff, and the student will need to log in to the reset test.

  • content and language supports

  • refreshable braille

  • American sign language

For these three accommodations, if the student has answered five or more questions, the accommodation error CANNOT be fixed and the test cannot be reset. The district will need to decide if the lack of the accommodation warrants the invalidation of the test. If so, use the Create Requests task in the Appeals/Score Codes module in TIDE to enter an “O” for Other score code. If an invalidation is not warranted, use “S” for Score. The district should consider whether the test is required for graduation and should also inform the parents of the error.

If an accommodation error is discovered after the student has finished testing, the error cannot be fixed. The district will need to decide if the lack of the accommodation warrants the invalidation of the test and follow the steps in the previous paragraph.

For all circumstances above, a procedural testing irregularity form for an accommodation error should be completed. This form can be accessed through the Submit a Form task in the Administration and Security Forms module in TIDE.

20. For an oral administration of an online assessment, what is the difference between TTS and Auto TTS?

TTS and Auto TTS are embedded supports within the Test Delivery System (TDS) for students who meet the eligibility requirements for an oral administration of an online assessment. Districts must select one of these two options in TIDE for students who are eligible for this accommodation.

TTS allows a student to independently select and change his or her level of reading support during the test administration. Auto TTS does not allow a student to independently select or change his or her level of reading support during the test administration. Auto TTS automatically reads aloud the text on the screen, and this embedded support cannot be changed during the test administration.

For more information regarding oral administration, refer to the STAAR Oral and Signed Administrations Educator Guide.

21. What should a district do if TTS is not working for students testing in Spanish?

Because TTS uses the local device’s native accessibility voice pack, districts must ensure that a Spanish voice pack is installed and activated on a student’s device prior to the test administration. It is recommended that districts test the functionality of Spanish TTS on each device prior to administering the assessment to a student.

22. What is Permissive Mode?

Permissive Mode is a feature within the secure browser application that allows a student to use non-embedded assistive technology to complete a test.

For more information, refer to the Assistive Technology Manual for Windows & macOS.

Special Populations

23. What should a district do for a student receiving special education services who has failed the first administration of a STAAR EOC assessment and whose admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee has determined that the student does not need pass the test to graduate?

The districts should remove the EOC eligibility flag and the retester flag in TIDE for the corresponding administration.

24. What should a district do for an emergent bilingual (EB) student who is not retaking the STAAR English I EOC assessment because of the special provision?

The districts should remove the EOC eligibility flag and the retester flag in TIDE for the corresponding administration.

25. What should a district do if a student was tested with TELPAS but should have been coded as “X” per the ARD committee, in conjunction with the language proficiency assessment committee (LPAC)?

If the student completed the test and the test was submitted, the district should change the score code in TIDE to “X” for ARD decision. The district should inform the parents of the error. A procedural testing irregularity form for an eligibility error should be completed and submitted through the Submit a Form task in the Administration and Security Forms module in TIDE.

26. Must all 40 TELPAS Alternate Observable Behaviors be completed in order to submit the test?

Yes, all 40 Observable Behaviors must be entered in the Data Entry Interface (DEI). If ratings for all 40 Observable Behaviors are not entered, the system will not allow the test to be submitted for scoring.