What is the STAR Reading Test?

Instructor: Bill Sands
The STAR Reading Test is designed to gauge the reading comprehension skills and abilities of students in grades 1-12. Find out what this test is, how it's structured and scored, and discover materials and resources that can help you and your students get ready.

The STAR Reading Assessment

Developed by Renaissance Learning, the STAR Reading assessment is a comprehensive examination that tests the range of students' knowledge of reading and language. Questions on this test cover 46 reading skill areas spread across five domains. Reading domains include analyzing literary text, word skills and knowledge, analyzing argument and evaluating text, comprehension strategies and constructing meaning, and understanding author's craft.

The STAR Reading test utilizes two types of question formats: short comprehension and extended comprehension. Short comprehension questions are based on the theory that vocabulary and comprehension are directly related and uses single-word deletion within a sentence. Extended items also use single-word deletion, but students must read multiple sentences for these types of questions.

The Purpose of the STAR Reading Assessment

The STAR Reading test is used by parents and educators to pinpoint students' strengths and deficiencies in reading and offers specific insight into which areas need improvement. Data from this assessment is also used to inform instruction, gauge students' progress, and identify whether or not students are meeting the expectations of state standards. It is also used to help select students for the Accelerated Reader™ program.

STAR Reading Assessment Scoring

The STAR Reading assessment is what's known as a computer-adaptive test (CAT). This type of assessment tests a student's skills in real-time, constantly adjusting the difficulty depending on a child's earlier responses. For example, for every question that a child answers correctly, the system raises the difficulty level of the next question. Conversely, if a student fails to answer a question correctly, the difficulty is lowered.

Based on the results of this computer-adaptive test, a scaled score (SS) is computed. For this assessment, this is determined by a formula based on the relationship between the number of correct responses as compared to the difficulty of the questions asked. Scaled scores for STAR Reading range from 0-1400.

STAR also provides several different scores that can offer insight into other aspects of a student's performance, such as how he or she performed as compared to other students. Types of scores include:

  • Percentile Rank (PR): A student's PR score compares his scores with those of others who are in the same grade throughout the country. PR is scored by percentiles, meaning possible scores range from 1-99. For example, if a student receives a score of 67, it means he performed as well as or better than 67 percent of those in the same grade who took the test.
  • Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD): This score serves as a guide for parents and teachers as they search for proper reading materials that will challenge a student without being overwhelming. These scores are an approximation and should be combined with a teacher's own observations.
  • Percentile Rank Range (PR Range): This scoring range predicts a student's PR score if he or she were to take the exam again within a short amount of time (e.g., 1-2 months).
  • Grade Equivalent (GE): This score compares a student's performance with other students throughout the country. It doesn't particularly mean that a student is reading at a certain grade level. As an example, a third grader who receives a score of 5.2 is progressing at the same speed of a fifth grader in the second month. This score only identifies how well a student is doing in reading. Children who receive higher scores could be doing exceptionally well with their reading skills. GE scores can range from 0.0 and 12.9+ points.

How to Prepare for the STAR Reading Assessment

The STAR assessment requires no specific training because students are expected to use skills that they have already acquired in their studies. For those looking to review these skills, a number of online courses are available that provide valuable resources. These courses are self-paced, allowing students to work at their own speed as they complete quizzes and take notes. These courses are also valuable for teachers looking to assess their students' progress. A few of these courses include the following:

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