Gearing up for the STAAR Alternate 2

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The STAAR Alternate 2 is the alternate statewide assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. This post will discuss a few items that test administrators can start thinking about as they gear up for administering the test this Spring.

Ensure IEP Includes Required Documentation

A student’s current IEP must include STAAR ALT 2 Participation Requirements with all five Eligibility Criteria indicated as “yes” with supporting evidence that is data-driven. Those criteria include:

  1. Does the student have a significant cognitive disability?
  2. Does the student require specialized, extensive supports to access the grade-level curriculum and environment?
  3. Does the student require intensive, individualized instruction in all instructional settings?
  4. Does the student access and participate in the grade-level TEKS through prerequisite skills?
  5. Is the STAAR Alternate 2 assessment determination based on the student’s significant cognitive disability and NOT on any other factors?

Again, all five Eligibility Criteria must be indicated “yes” for the student to be eligible to participate in the STAAR ALT 2. In addition, the assurances must be discussed and initialed by district personnel for the student to participate in STAAR ALT 2. Finally, all of the preceding should be based on a PLAAFP that is written with specific, objective, and measurable data. The PLAAFP should provide ARD committee members with a clear understanding of the student’s current performance including the individual student’s strengths and current areas of need specific to each subject/grade or course curriculum. 

Know Your Dates

Preview Window – March 15th to March 26th 2021

Like previous years, the preview window will be 2 weeks during March. Activities during this period include but are not limited to: reviewing student booklet and preparing accommodations, practicing reading test script and following presentation instructions, reviewing scoring instructions, and more. Make sure you’ve completed your security training and signed the security oath before previewing materials.

Assessment Window – March 29th to May 7th 2021

This year the assessment window has been lengthened from three weeks to six weeks. Because the assessment window has been extended, there will be no approvals for extended preview window for Spring 2021. Test administrators can preview materials and prepare accommodations during the testing window up until the day for testing to begin.

Know Which Tests You’ll be Administering

Since each STAAR ALT 2 subject matter test taken by each student might involve TEA approved adaptations to the test, it’s important to know just how many tests an administrator will be providing. This can help them plan ahead and ensure they are ready when the Assessment Window opens. Students take the STAAR ALT 2 subject matter tests for the grade in which they are enrolled. Use the following chart to determine which tests you’ll be administering this year:

Grade 3Math and Reading
Grade 4Math, Reading, & Writing
Grade 5Math, Reading, & Science
Grade 6Math and Reading
Grade 7Math, Reading, & Writing
Grade 8Math, Reading, & Social Studies
End of CourseAlgebra, English I, English II, Biology, & U.S. History

For example, a test administrator with three students in Grade 4 and one in Grade 5 would administer twelve subject matter tests total. Four in Math, four in Reading, three in Writing, and one in Science.

Know Students’ Accommodations and Response Modes

For STAAR ALT 2, TEA defines accommodations as changes to materials or procedures that enable students with disabilities to participate meaningfully in learning and testing. However, these accommodations must maintain the integrity of the test, be used routinely in instruction outside the testing environment, and be documented in the student’s IEP. Because of this, it is important for teachers to employ necessary accommodations throughout the school year and not just during the STAAR ALT 2. For a list of allowable accommodations, visit the STAAR ALT 2 Online Resources.

Additionally, during STAAR ALT 2 administration, a student may need alternative forms of responding. That response may be verbal, physical, or visual. For examples of responses modes, again visit the STAAR ALT 2 Online Resources. As with accommodations, it’s important to use and practice these response modes throughout the year.

Prepare your Students

Some students might need additional preparation in order to participate effectively in the testing process. This might mean practicing the testing process, including but not limited to 1:1 time working with future test administrator and clustering of 4 tasks before a break. In addition, administrators might consider using STAAR Alternate 2 Released Tests in order to practice the testing process.

Final Thoughts

There is much more that goes into preparing for administering the STAAR ALT 2. As we move toward the testing season, begin working on these areas – if you have not already – and you’ll increase your chances for a smooth testing process.

Join our free STAAR Alternate 2 Overview session to learn more.

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