What is the STAAR Test?

Instructor: Fola Rae
Students throughout Texas are tested using the STAAR. Read on to learn more about subjects included on the STAAR, and about study resources students can use to make sure they're well prepared for these exams.


The teaching and learning standards in Texas are now being tested using a set of tests called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). These tests replace the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) exams given under the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) program.

These assessments aim to prepare students to perform well academically as they are moved to higher grades, with the goal of making sure they are ready for college and to enter the workforce. The following STAAR formats are offered:

  • STAAR Spanish
  • STAAR Alternate 2

STAAR and STAAR Spanish are the standard administrations of the test in English and Spanish. The Spanish edition is only available for use in grades 3-5. The STAAR A is presented in a format that will allow children with disabilities to take the tests online. The STAAR Alternate 2 is a version of the test given to children enrolled in special education programs that also have cognitive disabilities. STAAR L is a version of the test that has been modified for English language learners to change the wording used in the test questions for easier reading.

TAKS and STAAR Differences

One of the major differences between the STAAR and TAKS is timing. For TAKS, assessments were not timed, and students had the whole day to work on a test. With the STAAR, time limits vary from four hours to five hours, depending on the type of STAAR test being given and the subject. Also, students who have received approval for testing accommodations may be given more than four hours to complete the STAAR.

For some grades, more test questions are included on the STAAR than on the TAKS. As another example, under TAKS, high school students had to sit for and pass four tests to graduate. Under STAAR, students have to take five tests called End of Course (EOC) tests that correlate with specific classes.

Elementary School

Students are tested in grades 3, 4 and 5 and are placed in performance groups based on how well they score. In grade 3, students take tests in reading and math. In grade 4, students take tests in writing, math and reading.

In grade 5, tests are given in math, science, and reading. The math and reading tests are important because they are used to decide whether students can pass to the next grade. The grade 5 tests are given in March and if students don't pass, they will have another chance to take the tests again to earn passing grades in May. If there are students who still do not pass in May, they will be able to test again in June.

Middle School

In grade 6, reading and math are tested. In grade 7, students will be tested in writing as well as math and reading. In grade 8, tests are given in social studies, math, reading and science, and the grade 8 tests are used to determine whether students will move to grade 9.

Some students with exceptional academic ability are allowed to take high school level algebra classes starting in grades 7 and 8. These students have to take the STAAR EOC assessment for Algebra I. Middle school students also have three chances to aim for passing scores on these tests in March, May and June.

High School

Required exams for high school are Algebra I, English I and II, U.S. history and biology. Starting in 2016, school districts can decide if they want to give English III and Algebra II as tests, but they do not have to. Initial testing for high school occurs in the spring. High school students can retake the tests in the summer and fall if they do not receive passing scores.

STAAR Courses offers a number of STAAR courses that students can access at their convenience to help them do as well as possible on the exams. Here are some examples of available STAAR courses that include graphics, video lessons, quizzes, exams, and key concepts that are found on each STAAR test:

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