In the new school year, students in HISD and across Texas will be taking new, tougher tests. The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) will replace the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). These exams are the foundation of the state's new accountability system. Beginning with this year's ninth graders, students must pass STAAR end-of-course exams to graduate from high school.
STAAR will be more rigorous than TAKS. While TAKS was created to evaluate whether students learned what they were supposed to in their current grade, STAAR is designed to determine whether students are ready for the next grade or course, and the one after that. The new exams will be longer and more difficult, and students will have a time limit to complete the tests. The questions will be more complex, and will require multiple steps and higher-level thinking. In grades 3–8, STAAR will assess the same subjects that have been covered by TAKS; however, at the high school level, 12 end-of-course assessments will replace the TAKS 9–11 exams.
These changes will demand more of our great principals and teachers. In HISD, we have spent months preparing for STAAR and the new accountability system. We are developing and revising our curriculum to ensure that it is aligned with the higher standards. This summer, teachers, principals, and school improvement officers have been attending training sessions to learn more about the assessment program and new accountability standards.
Early next month, we will be launching a new website to help parents and the community learn more about STAAR. By working together, we can help to ensure that our students are prepared to meet these new accountability standards.