Using TEKS-Based Assessments to Identify Strengths & Weaknesses

Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

Sudha has a Doctor of Education Degree and is currently working as a Information Technology Specialist.

Teachers taking a certification exam will benefit from this lesson about statewide assessment program in Texas. You will learn about the assessment program, TEKS instruction, and assessment data for student performance and progress.

Texas State Assessment Program

Amy is in the eighth grade in a public school in Texas, and her mother is helping her study for the student assessment program. Amy has been taking the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, since grade 3 and she would continue to take the test every in Spring through her 12th grade.

This year, as in previous years, Amy will take the test along with her classmates in her regular classroom. The test is based on the curriculum standards of the state, and will test the students in core subjects including reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and science. Amy's mother is determined to help Amy do well in the test as the results would indicate what Amy has learned so far, and if she is ready for the next grade. Amy will be taking the paper format of the test, last year she opted for the online format which is available as an option for students in grades 3 through 8.

Amy's friend Colin has cognitive disabilities, so he'll participate instead in the STAAR Alternate 2 test, as he exhibits difficulties with reasoning and comprehension as well as social and practical skills and behavior deficits. Colin is eligible to take the STAAR Alternate 2 since he requires individualized instruction and support that isn't temporary and isn't limited to a particular subject area. He wasn't a designated English learner and he has additional challenges in everyday life, which isn't limited to low academic achievement and the need for accommodations.

Louise, Amy's neighbor who's in the 10th grade, will take the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System or TELPAS to assess the progress that she and other students who have limited English proficiency (also known as LEP students) are making towards learning the language. This test is also available in the TELPAS alternate format for another one of Amy's friends, Laura, who has cognitive disabilities that make it difficult for her to participate in the general test as the accommodations allowed aren't sufficient.

TEKS based Instruction

Elizabeth is Amy's teacher and she's been following curriculum and instruction materials to implement Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) based instruction for many years now. Her lesson plans follow guidelines to help align instruction to the state of Texas approved academic standards. She studies student expectations from the TEKS perspective and prepares her lessons to help students achieve mastery of the expected standards.

Elizabeth makes sure that her instruction is aligned with state standards, is appropriate for the student grade level, and includes continuous assessment to help determine students' strengths and areas of needs. Lessons and assessments are designed to reflect real-world applications and students are provided with opportunities to explore new ideas from different perspectives.

Her classroom environment promotes mutual respect and rapport and allows for students to learn and grow in a positive climate giving importance to both equity and excellence. Students are encouraged to conduct work ethically, monitor their own behavior and learn to respond to positive and negative behaviors from other students.

She makes extra effort to promote student learning through active engagement and participation of students, and timely and relevant feedback. Lessons are clearly defined and structured around activities, and students are guided to learn to use feedback to improve their learning experiences.

STAAR Assessment

All students taking the STAAR test receive a STAAR report card that helps parents and teachers understand the academic areas in which the students are performing as expected, and areas in which they need extra learning and guidance. Two of the categories on the report are student performance and student progress.

Student Performance

Elizabeth reviews and analyzes student performance data to understand how her students perform on the test. She's happy to see that 75% of her students were given an overview 'Meets Grade Level' indicating that they passed the test and displayed sufficient understanding of the subject matter. Only 2% 'Did Not Meet Grade Level' and therefore didn't pass since they failed to satisfy the learning goals expected from a student of their grade.

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