2012-2013 School Year Ushers in Year Two of STAAR

The 2012-2013 school year is the second year for the new state assessment known as STAAR, which requires high school students to take End of Course exams or EOCs rather than grade-based assessments under TAKS. Last year, only high school freshmen were required to take STAAR End of Course exams. This year, all ninth- and tenth-graders in the state of Texas will take STAAR EOCs.

Under STAAR, a student’s score on an EOC would normally count toward 15 percent of their final course grade. However, the Texas Education Agency has deferred implementation of the 15 percent grading requirement for the 2012-2013 school year.

Westside High School freshmen and their parents wanting more information on STAAR recently came out to a special campus workshop. The informational session was held to help parents understand how the new EOC exams could impact their child’s course grades and GPAs, as well as their ability to graduate.

“It’s imperative that ninth-grade parents and students know how important the STAAR exam is,” said Westside High School Dean Noelle MacGregor. “Historically, with TAKS, the ninth-grade year really didn’t count, per se, towards their grades or graduation. With STAAR, the exams they take their freshman year actually count toward their graduation, so they need to be aware of the impact these exams can have.”

All HISD ninth-graders will take five EOC exams this spring. They include English I Reading, English I Writing, Algebra I, Biology, and World Geography. Performance standards on those exams were set by the Texas Education Agency in April 2012 and will remain the same for this year’s freshman class. A student can score Unsatisfactory (Level I), Satisfactory (Level II) or Accomplished (Level III) on any of the EOCs.

Staff at Westside and other high schools are setting their freshmen up for STAAR success by holding after-school and Saturday tutorials focused on writing and math. “We want all of our students to start off strong as freshmen and get all the scores they need to graduate,” MacGregor said.

Westside parents who attended the STAAR informational session say they left feeling less anxious about the exam and more confident about what the school is doing to prepare their children. “I know it is a lot different from TAKS, but I feel my child will do well if he keeps up with his classes and masters the concepts,” said parent Elya Saudale.