The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests were designed to measure how well students have learned the knowledge and skills described in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the state-mandated curriculum standards.
Public school students in Texas take STAAR tests beginning in 3rd grade and continuing through high school. Although these tests can be challenging, there are many resources available to help you and your child prepare.
In this article, we’ll provide access to and examples from all of the released STAAR practice tests 2016. (Click the relevant button below to get a practice test, plus you will receive a bonus PDF "5 Top Tips to Use Practice Tests Effectively"to help you study for the test.)
In this article, we’ll also give you plenty of information about the format and content of the STAAR tests, hopefully addressing all of your questions and concerns about STAAR testing.
STAAR Test Basics
The STAAR program, first implemented during the 2011-2012 school year, includes the following assessments:
Each STAAR test is based on readiness standards, which are a small percentage of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards identified as the most critical for each grade/subject and course assessed. These standards are essential for success in the current grade and important for preparedness for the next grade level.
General STAAR assessments are administered in paper-pencil format, while STAAR EOCs are available in both paper-pencil and online administration. STAAR L and STAAR A are both administered online.
Students are given four hours to complete each STAAR test, with the exception of English I and English II EOCs, which have a five hour time limit. If students finish a test early, they can be dismissed from the testing room and may resume the normal school day.
In the sections below, we’ll provide more in-depth information about each of the general STAAR tests (Reading and Mathematics, Writing, Social Studies, and Science). We’ll also include sample questions from STAAR Practice Tests 2016.
Mathematics (grades 3-8)
STAAR Mathematics tests assess student mastery of mathematics skills outlined in the TEKS. Students are assessed in nearly the same four categories, but the difficulty of the required skills varies for different grade levels.
Third grade students are evaluated on Number and Operations, Computations and Algebraic Relationships, Geometry and Measurement, and Data Analysis and Personal Financial Literacy.
This includes the ability to represent and compare whole numbers and fractions, solve one and two step problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, categorize shapes, determine perimeter and liquid volume, and explain the benefit of a savings plan.
Fourth grade students are assessed in basically the same categories, but skills build upon third grade knowledge, and questions are more advanced.
For example, fourth grade students should be able to represent both fractions and decimals on a number line, represent multi-step problems with a letter standing for an unknown quantity, draw an angle with a given measure, convert measurements within the same measurement system, and distinguish between fixed and variable expenses.
Fifth grade students are tested on Numerical Representations and Relationships, Computations and Algebraic Relationships, Geometry and Measurement, and Data Analysis and Personal Financial Literacy.
Grade-appropriate skills include the ability to identify prime and composite numbers, generate a numerical pattern when given a rule in the form of y=ax or y=x+a and graph, identify locations on a coordinate plane, solve problems using data from a variety of graphs, charts, and plots, and balance a simple budget.
In sixth grade, students are evaluated on the same four categories as fifth grade students, but questions advance in difficulty.
For example, sixth grade students must generate equivalent expressions using the properties of operations, solve problems involving proportional relationships, write corresponding real-world problems to represent equations and inequalities, graph points in all four quadrants using ordered pairs of rational numbers, and balance a check registry that includes deposits, withdrawals, and transfers.
While the latter three categories remain the same for seventh grade students, the first reporting category changes to Probability and Numerical Representations.
Seventh grade students are expected to determine experimental and theoretical probabilities related to simple and compound events using data, solve problems involving ratios, rates, and percentages, determine the area of composite figures, write and solve equations using geometry concepts, and calculate and compare both compound interest and simple interest earnings.
Eighth grade students are tested on Numerical Representations and Relationships, Computations and Algebraic Relationships, Geometry and Measurement, and Data Analysis and Personal Financial Literacy.
Eighth grade skills include the ability to identify and verify the values of x and y that simultaneously satisfy two linear equations in the form y = mx + b from the intersections of the graphed equations, model the effect on linear and area measurements of dilated two-dimensional shapes, convert between standard decimal notation and scientific notation, and estimate the cost of a two-year and four-year college education and develop a savings plan.
Only 8th grade students are permitted to use a calculator. A calculator is not necessary to solve problems on the other STAAR Mathematics exams. 8th grade students are permitted to use a graphing calculator throughout the entire Mathematics exam.
To view more sample problems, check out our STAAR practice tests 2016.
Reading (grades 3-8)
The reporting categories for STAAR Reading tests are Understanding and Analysis Across Genres, Understanding and Analyzing of Literary Texts, and Understanding and Analysis of Informational Texts.
The only exception to these categories is that third grade students are assessed only on Understanding Across Genres and are not required to provide analysis across genres.
On the Reading assessments, students read both informational and literary texts across a variety of genres, including poetry, and answer questions designed to demonstrate both comprehension and analysis.
Both texts and questions increase in complexity with increasing grade levels. In general, students are expected to do the following:
If you would like to learn even more information about STAAR Reading, be sure to spend some time working on STAAR practice tests 2016 with your child.
Writing (grades 4 and 7)
On the STAAR Writing Assessment, students are assessed on Composition, Revision, and Editing. Students write a composition in response to a prompt, then read brief passages and answer questions concerning revising and editing these passages.
Fourth grade students write a composition and answer 24 multiple choice questions, 8 concerning revision and 16 focused on editing.
Students write a brief expository composition that should include a topic sentence, supporting details, and a conclusion. Editing questions ask students about adding and deleting details, combining sentences, etc.
The following is a sample prompt for 4th grade students:
Editing questions deal with identifying and revising errors in grammar, spelling, capitalization, word usage, etc. Revising questions ask students about adding and deleting details, clarifying unclear sentences, combining sentences, selecting better words, etc. The following is a 4th grade Editing question:
Seventh grade students write a composition and answer 30 multiple choice questions , 13 on revision and 17 on editing.
The expository composition should include effective introductory and conclusion paragraphs, logical organization, information synthesized from a variety of sources, transitions linking paragraphs, and varied sentence structure.
A seventh grade prompt would resemble the following:
Multiple choice questions are very similar to the fourth grade multiple choice questions, but naturally evaluate students on more complex matters of grammar, spelling, word usage, editing etc. The following is an example of an 7th grade Revision question:
Reviewing the STAAR practice tests 2016 can give you a better idea of the type of prompts and writing tasks your child will likely encounter on this assessment.
Science (grades 5 and 8)
STAAR Science assessments ask multiple choice questions about Matter and Energy; Force, Motion, and Energy; Earth and Space; Organisms and Environments; and Scientific Investigation and Reasoning Skills.
Below are sample questions for 5th and 8th grade Science, respectively:
If you would like to work on Science questions with your student, we recommend practicing with the released STAAR practice tests 2016.
Social Studies (grade 8)
For a successful performance on STAAR Social Studies, 8th grade students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the following:
If your eighth grader needs additional practice with Social Studies question, the STAAR practice tests 2016 are an excellent resource.
STAAR Test Scoring and Graduation Requirements
STAAR scores are divided into three performance categories:
Any score that meets or exceeds Level II (Satisfactory Academic Performance) is considered “passing.”
To earn a high school diploma from a Texas public school or charter school, students generally must pass the five EOC exams (English I, English II, Algebra, Biology, and U.S. history).
Students are allowed three testing opportunities per year to pass these assessments. If, for example, a student takes a course freshman year and doesn’t pass the EOC, they can retake that course’s EOC each year (including senior year) in an attempt to achieve the passing score that is needed for graduation.
How to Prepare for STAAR Tests
Because STAAR tests are based on the curriculum that your child studies throughout the school year (TEKS), it’s vital for your child to pay attention in classes, complete classwork and homework, take notes, etc.
If your child seems to be struggling in a core subject area, it may be a good idea to ask the teacher for extra assistance or consider hiring a tutor.
Reading a certain amount of pages or minutes weekly can help your child improve on both the Reading and Writing tests. Reading consistently improves vocabulary, reading comprehension, grammar, and spelling.
As we mentioned before, one of the best ways to prepare for any standardized test is by answering sample questions and completing practice tests. In this case, the STAAR practice tests 2016 are the perfect resource to help your child prepare.
As you go over practice tests, be sure to discuss why right answers are correct and wrong answers are incorrect. Using this strategy should help your child feel confident and prepared for any STAAR assessment!