TEA’s Respose to STAAR Errors

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The STAAR test question is from the 5th grade science STAAR 2013.  I reported several questions that I think have errors. The response is from Gloria Zyskowski, Director of Student Assessment Division, Texas Education Agency.

The percentages shown show the percent of Texas students that chose each of the answers.

Ms. VanCleave,

Thank you for communicating your concerns about two questions on the 2013 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) grade 5 science released test. All of the STAAR questions are reviewed by content specialists in the assessment and curriculum divisions of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), as well as by committees of educators from across the state of Texas.

With regard to question #25, while it could be argued that any of the activities described in the box result in a change in the environment, the question asks “Which fact best describes one way this bird changes its environment to meet 5th 2013 #25 bird environmentits needs?” Only Fact 1 involves a direct manipulation of the environment and is the “best” answer. Fact 3 describes the act of hunting, which, if successful, can result in indirect change.

Comment from Janice VanCleave

I disagree, moving leaves and sticks doesn’t affect the environment more than eating insects and spiders.

Best answer? Too subjective.

One of the characteristics of the STAAR program is its emphasis on the ability to think critically and apply the assessed knowledge and skills in varied contexts. For this question, students are required to evaluate a number of options and choose the best one.

The analysis and interpretation of information required in question #25 is an important part of the scientific process skills in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and is reflected by the process code 5.2D associated with this question.

 Comment from Janice VanCleave

According to another TEA representative, process codes 5.2 A-G refers to science investigations that students perform. Question #25 does not describe an investigation.

Code 5.2D
Scientific Investigation and Reasoning:
The student uses scientific methods during laboratory and outdoor investigations. The student is expected to:  D. Analyze and interpret information to construct reasonable explanations from direct (observable) and indirect (inferred) evidence.

Note: The data collected from the investigation is the information students are to analyze and interpret.

Question #25 doesn’t describe a student investigation, thus the question doesn’t represent science process skill 5.2D.

We appreciate your thoughtful feedback on these items. If you have additional concerns about STAAR science questions, please contact Luis Salinas, Manager of Science Assessments, or Julie Guthrie, Director of Mathematics and Science Assessments, in the Student Assessment Division of TEA.  The contact number for the Student Assessment division is (512) 463-9536.

Gloria Zyskowski
Director, Student Assessment Division
Texas Education Agency
512-463-9536solution, but to ensure that the student gets some vinegar in addition to some oil since the vinegar settles to the bottom of the container because it is denser than the oil.

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