STAAR Scores Falsely Reported

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Commissioner WilliamsAre 5th grade STAAR Math Scores being Falsely Reported?

Michael Williams, Texas Education Commissioner, has proudly announced the passing math scores for Texas 5th graders. Why did the commissioner report that students only had to understand 54% of the basic 5th grade math skills to pass.

According to Commissioner Williams, “Assessments are essential in identifying whether students require early support for basic subjects in our public education system.”

5th math staar three years scores

Obviously Commissioner Williams is not familiar with how Pearson and TEA are able to manipulate the test scores.

Who scores the STAAR tests? Pearson

Who determines the comparison of the raw scores to the scale scores? Pearson

Who created the scale scoring system? Pearson

Who is being paid about $100 million dollars each year for the STAAR/EOC tests? Pearson

Who publishes STAAR help books for teachers and students? Pearson

Even students on the honor roll are being failed by the STAAR tests. STOP the STAAR/EOC tests.

Look at the comparison of the STAAR scores for three consecutive years. TEA and Pearson chose three scale scores that never change:

1489 = least passing scale score

1558 = least scale score for level II phase II satisfactory

1627= least scale score for Level II R

1710= least scale score for Level III advanced

 By keeping these scale scores the same TEA and Pearson can state that the scale scores can be used to make comparisons of student achievement from year to year. This is just a way to mislead the public. STOP THE STAAR/EOC TESTS

While 1489 will always be the the least passing scale score ON THE 5TH MATH STAAR, the amount of questions a student has to answer correctly to pass can vary from year to year. It took only 26 correct answers to pass in 2012 and 27 correct answers in 2013 and 2014.

Note that the number of questions on the 5th grade STAAR Math test remains the same but the percent of questions needed to pass from year to year can vary. For three consecutive years, Texas 5th grade students can pass the STAAR Math tests by answering about 50% of the questions. Thus, the Commissioner of Education has little to be proud of if Texas children only have to know 50% of the 5th grade math skills to pass the STAAR test.

Commissioner Williams said,  “Assessments help determine whether a student has grasped certain concepts in basic subjects over the course of the school year.”

Commissioner Williams, you are correct. An Assessment by itself might help determine a student’s achievements but you sir are using the STAAR test scores on their own to fail elementary children. Do you really think that all of the STAAR tests are valid enough to be used to make just an evaluation? Are you aware of the conditions you subject elementary children to in taking the STAAR tests? A four hour test in elementary school? A four hour test in a room with the wall covered with white sheets or paper? Elementary children walked to the bathroom as if they were criminals.

Sadly TEA and Pearson are purposely deceiving Texas parents into thinking that their children are passing math when actually they know only about 50% of the 5th grade concepts.

Is Commissioner Williams complicit with TEA and Pearson in this deception? Williams was the Texas Railroad Commissioner. Why did Governor Perry appoint the Railroad Commissioner to be Texas’ Education Commissioner? Is Commissioner Williams to be the “fall guy?” Someone has to take the blame for what TEA and Pearson have done to Texas Education. Multi-millions of dollars are being wasted by TEA each year. The millions spent on STAAR/EOC test in the name of assessing students is one of the biggest education scams. The STAAR tests have errors, The STAAR tests are not at reading grade level and now you can see that the scale scoring is designed to be confusing and to deceive you. What else is needed to stop this massive waste of money?

The idea that the STAAR scores are being used to fail students is criminal. Yes, I said criminal. TEA knows that the STAAR tests are not valid tools to assess student achievement. It is all about the money. Think about this:

When student fail the STAAR tests, they take the tests over–more money for TEA and Pearson. How many people profit when students have to retake the STAAR tests. How many people profit when children have to attend summer school because they failed the STAAR.

More than one parent has informed me that their child is on the honor roll but will go to summer school because of failing the STAAR.  While the state of Texas doesn’t require 4th grade students to pass the STAAR tests, the superintendent and school board in Chilton, Texas added a rule requiring every student failing the STAAR to go to summer school. Why? Where is the money coming from that pays for summer school? Money is very tight in this small school so why would this rule be implemented? Maybe because the money is coming from an outside source–the state or the Federal Government ?

I have confirmed the following information with the principal of the Chilton Elementary school. Note that the superintendent has failed to correspond to phone or email messages.

A 4th grade student was given an award for being one of Chilton’s model outstanding students. This child faithfully completes her assignments–scores high on school tests, but failed the STAAR math test by 3 points. Note that there were errors on the 2013 4th grade STAAR Math test. The parents couldn’t understand all this. Of course they were shown the STAAR scoring sheet prepared for parents–very confusing and designed to be so. With the parents permission I call and spoke with the Chilton Elementary principal. I asked if the math teacher was at fault for not preparing students. NO! Well, then were the child’s class math grades inflated? Absolutely NOT! Then why is this child being punished by having to attend summer school if she has successfully mastered 4th grade math concepts? The answer was that Life is like that sometimes and children have to learn that things don’t always turn out the way we think they should.

Is this what the STAAR test is all about? Is the test to teach students that no matter how hard they work in school, they can fail the STAAR tests because these tests are not all valid. Are they to learn that that is just the way life is–not fair when state officials are not honest! Not fair when state officials are not and have never been teachers–real teachers. Not people given a teaching certificate –but people who really care about the students instead of power–money–etc…..

Why doesn’t the Commissioner of Education respond about the STAAR errors reported to him?

STOP the STAAR/EOC tests!


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  1. I wonder if TEA is now listening….

    TEA just shared information regarding new math TEKS and Spring 2015 Math STAAR. 2 major announcements were made:

    1) Students in grades 3-8 who take the math STAAR in the Spring of 2015 will only receive a raw score (# of questions correct/# of total questions).

    2) Performance standards will be set using Spring 2015 scores in the Summer of 2015, this will result in no math re-testing for students in 5th and 8th grade that take the Spring 2015 STAAR.

    Here is the information taken from TEA’s website:

    May 1, 2014

    SUBJECT: State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Transition to New Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Mathematics

    The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the statewide curriculum standards, are reviewed and updated on a regular basis by the State Board of Education (SBOE). As revisions are made to the TEKS, changes are subsequently made to the assessment program to maintain a strong, direct, and effective link between the TEKS and the statewide assessments.

    Revised TEKS in mathematics were adopted by the SBOE in April 2012. The revised TEKS for kindergarten–grade 8 will be implemented in classrooms, and therefore in the grades 3–8 assessment program, in the 2014–2015 school year. The revised TEKS for high school mathematics, including Algebra I and II, are expected to be implemented in classrooms and in the assessments in the 2015–2016 school year. Teachers across the state are required to teach the revised TEKS, and the state assessments will align to the TEKS that are required to be taught.

    In the past the Texas Assessment Program has integrated changes to the TEKS in the state assessments using an “overlap year” approach for the first year of TEKS implementation. This approach worked well when the changes were minimal (e.g., during the prior rounds of mathematics refinements in 2005 and 2009) or when the assessment program has been in transition (e.g., TAKS to STAAR, as occurred during the 2009 science TEKS revisions and the 2010 social studies revisions).

    The overlap in the algebra content between the current and the revised TEKS is fairly extensive. As a result, the shift in the STAAR Algebra I and II assessments to incorporate the revised algebra TEKS is not significant. Therefore, an overlap plan for assessing Algebra I and Algebra II in 2015–2016 is feasible. The tests will only assess the content that overlaps between the current and the revised TEKS in the first year the revised TEKS are required to be taught.

    There are substantial challenges associated with implementation of the revised mathematics TEKS in the STAAR grades 3–8 assessments. Specifically, there is not sufficient overlap between the current and the revised TEKS at these grade levels to make the overlap approach feasible. Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff are currently working on a plan for assessing grades 3–8 mathematics in spring 2015. The plan will involve a special operational administration that incorporates the revised mathematics TEKS as indicated in the recently posted STAAR assessed curriculum documents and blueprints available on the STAAR Mathematics Resources webpage at:
    For the spring 2015 STAAR grades 3–8 mathematics test administrations, students will receive a raw score (XX questions correct out of XX total questions) prior to the end of the school year based on their performance on the assessments. Then data from the spring administrations will be used to establish new performance standards for STAAR mathematics in summer 2015. The new performance standards will be retroactively applied to the spring 2015 administrations with new reports and data files sent to school districts in August 2015.
    Because performance standards for STAAR grades 3–8 mathematics will not be set until after the spring 2015 administration, Student Success Initiative (SSI) retest opportunities for STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics will not be offered in May and June of 2015. For the 2014–2015 school year, districts will use other relevant academic information to make promotion/retention decisions for mathematics. This is similar to the approach used for SSI in spring 2012 for the first administration of STAAR. Please note that SSI will still be in effect for reading in 2014–2015.

    TEA is considering options regarding state and federal accountability and performance-based monitoring. Once we have more information, we will share that with you.
    Thank you for your continued commitment to the success of Texas students. If you have questions regarding the STAAR program, please call the Student Assessment Division at 512-463-9536. If you have questions regarding the revised TEKS for mathematics, call the Curriculum Division at 512-463-9581.


    Michael Williams
    Commissioner of Education

  2. JB Self says:

    Am I wrong in thinking that they do not announce the number of correct questions needed to achieve the scale score until after the tests are graded?

    If the tests are valid, shouldn’t they be able to do that before the test is taken?

    Awesome article! Keep it up!

    • Janice VanCleave says:

      Yes, the correct answers needed to achieve scale scores is calculated after the tests are graded.

      The tests are not valid. We need to Stop the STAAR/EOC tests until valid tests can be produced.