Section 10 | COVID-19 Administering Interim Tests at Home

In response to COVID-19 and the anticipated need for Texas school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to support home learning, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has developed guidance around interim testing at home. This page provide local education agencies information needed to address at home testing for the 2020-2021 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) interim assessments. TEA continues to look for ways to support students and educators and has developed the following guidance to support at home interim testing. Below you will find information regarding new in-browser functionality, support for the distribution of test tickets, and downloadable courtesy support materials for students and parents in English and Spanish for home testing using the new at home in-browser functionality.

General Information for Testing Coordinators and Educators

STAAR Interim Assessments are an optional online tool schools can use to gauge students' understanding of the statewide curriculum and students' mastery of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).  This informs intervention strategies and predicts performance on the STAAR summative assessments. STAAR Interim Assessments are not part of the accountability system and are available at no cost to districts and open-enrollment charter schools. STAAR Interim Assessments are low-stakes tests. However, because they predict student performance on the spring STAAR, it is important that schools provide clear guidelines to students and parents about expectations for completing a STAAR Interim Assessment at home (e.g., parents should not assist students with answering test questions, students should not receive accommodations that are not regularly provided, students should not access external information to support responses) to ensure the most accurate student results and predictions based on their current academic proficiency. Reference the STAAR Interim Assessments Frequently Asked Questions available on the State-Developed STAAR Interim Assessments page.

Test Registration

Students testing from home will need to be registered in the STAAR Assessment Management System in the same manner as they would if they were testing on campus. Refer to  Section 3 Registering Students for more information regarding registration for interim assessments.

Online Test Tickets

Each student must have an online test ticket available in the Assessment Management System to access their online test. Test tickets are automatically generated for all students who are registered for interim testing. Interim test tickets include a student's test information (i.e., test administration, group, test subject and grade level, and testing language), personal needs and preferences (PNP), and student login credentials (i.e., user ID, password, and session ID). All students testing at home must be provided their login credentials for each grade and subject level test they are to take in order to access their tests using the in-browser. Reference Section 5.4 Download and Print Test Tickets for more information.

NOTE: Online test tickets identify a student by name and date of birth and are therefore subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requirements. Districts planning on distributing online test tickets to students at home should plan accordingly.

To support districts in the distribution of student login credentials for students testing at home, these credentials are now included in the District Test Status Report and the Campus Test Status Report (columns V-X). These reports are available for download in the Assessment Management System (Reports > Online Testing) and may be used to share test login credential with students.



NOTE: The session ID provided in the report includes quotation marks to prevent the dropping of leading zeros when opening the file in Microsoft Excel. Only the numeric portion of the session ID listed in the file should be entered in the session ID field when logging into a test.

Some local education agencies (LEAs) are choosing to use their existing mail merge or secure email to send student login credentials, or posting login credentials and test tickets to their secure parent portals.  Districts may distribute interim test tickets or login credential information to their students in any manner that is not in violation of FERPA requirements. Any PII (students name, PEIMS ID or date of birth) distributed via email or contained within an electronically disseminated document (e.g. online test tickets) must be encrypted.

NOTE: A student's interim test login credentials (user ID, password, and session ID) in and of themselves do not contain PII and therefore do not require encryption if shared without including a student's PII.

Test Access - At Home Testing vs. In School Testing

In-Browser at Home Testing

To support interim assessment testing at home, the TEA is providing an in-browser option for accessing interim assessments that does not require installation of the STAAR Online Testing Platform secure browser application. Students taking interim assessments at home should use the in-browser option.  The in-browser option allows users to access interim assessments using the most common web browsers (see support browser section below). Interim assessments may be accessed via the in-browser option by entering the following URL into the browser URL search bar:

The in-browser option can be used with any device that meets the Unified Minimum System Requirements, and it supports all PNP options available for interim testing except refreshable braille.  Students testing with refreshable braille will need to have the latest version of the secure browser application installed on a PC that includes the JAWS 18 screenreader application. Refer to the STAAR Online Testing Platform Technology Guide for more information on setting up devices to test with refreshable braille.

Interim tests accessed through the in-browser option may have items rendered slightly differently (depending on browser and browser version) than when using the secure browser application. Additionally, tests taken using the in-browser option are more sensitive to internet connectivity disruptions or possibly slowdowns with text-to-speech audio voice-over caused by low bandwidth availability or weak Wi-Fi signal strength in the home. 

NOTE:  Users with dial up or satellite internet connections are most susceptible to internet related issues while testing at home. If internet connectivity is lost while using the in-browser option, testers will see an internet connectivity error pop up message displayed. Depending on the extent of time the outage lasts, the student may be automatically logged out of a test and lose up to 30 seconds of activity/responses. Students logging back in after an internet disruption will be returned to the point of the test where they left off and be able to view and edit responses entered prior to the disruption.

Supported Browsers

The most recent version of the Chrome browser is highly recommended for optimal performance and rendering of test content. Firefox and Safari are not recommended, but are supported, and devices should have the latest version of these browsers when possible. While tests may be taken using older versions of these browsers, system performance and rendering of items may be compromised. Internet Explorer (IE) or Edge browsers are NOT supported.

NOTE: Browser should be set to full screen while taking the test for optimal rendering of test content.

Secure Browser Application - At School Testing

Districts planning on testing students in school should have students access the interim assessments using the current updated version of the secure browser application. The application contains test security features and most closely replicates the look, feel, and experience of online testing as provided for STAAR summative tests. Current application version numbers along with application installation files are provided below for your convenience or may be accessed through the Secure Browser Application page. Refer to the STAAR Online Testing Platform Technology Guide for detailed installation and device setup instructions.

Operating System

Updated Application Version (Current)
Download
Windowsv3.19.0 (requires uninstall of prior versions)For Windows®
Macv3.19.0 (requires uninstall of prior versions)For Mac OS® (.pkg)
Linuxv3.19.0 (requires uninstall of prior versions)Linux-deb-64-bit
Chromebookv2.65.0 (1.32.0 in Chrome web store) - (prior version will auto-update)Chromebook™
iOSv2.80.0 (2.73 in Apple store) - (requires uninstall of prior versions)For iPad®

NOTE: Google does not support kiosk mode for non-managed 2017 and newer Chromebooks. Students with non-managed Chromebooks must use the in-browser option for accessing STAAR Interim Assessments noted below. For more information see Section 3.2.2 Non-managed Chromebook Installation Procedure in the STAAR Online Testing Platform Technology Guide.

Test Security and Data Reporting

Interim assessments do not require the same level of test security as STAAR summative assessments. While test content is not secure, test items should not be distributed or reviewed with students prior to testing to ensure the integrity of test results.  It is important that schools speak with students and parents about expectations for completing a STAAR Interim Assessment at home (e.g., parents not assisting students, students not receiving accommodations that are regularly not provided, accessing external information to support responses) to ensure the most accurate student results and predictions based on their current academic proficiency.

Scores for students testing at home, whether using the in-browser option or the secure browser application, will be reported in the Online Reporting Suite (ORS) for all primary and subsequent test attempts. Only a student's primary attempt will be included in the weekly posting of the district interim data file.

Students and parents do not have access to the ORS and will not be able to see interim score results until they are shared by the district or teacher of record. Score results may be shared with students in any manner deemed appropriate by the district and in accordance with FERPA requirements. Refer to Section 7 Viewing Scores and Results for instructions on accessing reports in the ORS.

Technical Support

Districts are responsible for serving as the first line of technical support for students taking interim assessments at home. Parents needing technical assistance should work with their district directly and NOT be referred to the Texas Assessment Support Center. 

Issues identified that need escalation to ETS technical support for resolution must be called in by the testing coordinator to the Texas Assessment Support Center. Districts requesting technical support should first verify and collect the following information prior to calling the support center. This information will need to be shared with the ETS support team during the call.

  • device type (PC, Mac, iPAD, Chromebook)
  • version of operating system (verify meets minimum systems requirement prior to calling)
  • using in-browser or secure browser option to access test
    • if using in-browser option, what browser and version number (verify using supported and recommended browsers prior to calling)
    • if using secure browser application, what version number (verify updated to latest version prior to calling)
  • error messages received
  • grade/subject or course test(s) with identified issues
  • test login credentials (verify accurate entry of Username, Password, Session ID prior to calling)

Do not escalate issues related to:

  • home network and local internet connectivity
  • unsupported devices or operating systems 
  • outdated secure browser applications

Do escalate issues related to:

  • locked tests and test reopens
  • test resets (e.g., test language changes after start of test)
  • server connectivity or student login issue not related to local home internet connectivity
  • login errors not related to inaccurate entry of student login credentials

Testing coordinators needing technical assistance should contact the Texas Assessment Support Center:

Phone: 855-333-7770

Email: STAAR3–8@ets.org or STAAREOC@ets.org.

Courtesy Support Materials (In-Browser)

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