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TEA emphasizes support for teachers in transition to online assessment in 2022-23

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TEA announced a suite of new resources to support districts in the transition to online state summative assessments that will be implemented in the 2022-23 school year, including a Transition to Online Assessments Implementation Guide with criteria for a successful online implementation and next steps based on experiences from Texas public school systems that have already moved online. House Bill 3261, enacted by the 87th Texas Legislature in 2021, requires state assessments to be administered online by the 2022–23 school year. This transition will require nearly all students to be assessed online beginning in December 2022, with the exceptions of students taking the STAAR Alternate 2 assessment and students who require accommodations that cannot be provided online.

Among the criteria in the Transition to Online Assessments Implementation Guide are those related to supporting teachers in the transition, including:

  • Involving teachers in the development of the online transition plan and ensuring that the district/campus continues to gather teacher feedback once the plan is in use;
  • Developing a launch plan providing that before administration, teachers have the chance to give feedback and proactively troubleshoot issues for online testing for their classroom and that after test administration, teachers have the chance to give feedback on testing logistics and environment; and
  • Creating and tailoring professional development opportunities for teachers to promote technology literacy and technology use in instruction as well as setting up troubleshooting and technology learning opportunities for teachers within weekly PLCs.

TEA emphasized in its announcement that educators, students, and families have many opportunities to familiarize themselves with the STAAR online testing platform (TDS) via the following existing online assessments:

  • STAAR Practice Tests – available on www.texasassessment.gov, a resource open to the public that provides exposure to the testing tools and accommodations that increase equitable access for all students. Note: currently-available practice tests are based on the current STAAR assessment design. Practice tests based on the redesigned state assessment will be available in 2022.
  • STAAR Interim Assessments – free, optional, online tests for public school systems that mirror the summative blueprint and predict students’ performance on the STAAR.
  • Texas Formative Assessment Resource (TFAR) – free, optional, online tool for educators to create and deliver quizzes, analyze results, and gain real-time feedback as learning occurs.

Monetary support for districts will be provided via an up-to-$4 million grant from TEA intended to help rural and small districts upgrade their network infrastructure to meet the recommended testing speeds. More information will be provided by early 2022.

Also included in TEA’s announcement was information related to the state summative assessment redesign, required by HB 3906, enacted by the 86th Texas Legislature in 2019. TEA noted that its STAAR Redesign web page was recently updated to include several other resources tied to the state summative assessment redesign:

  • A Frequently Asked Questions document that will be continually updated and will provide more detailed guidance.
  • Updated RLA assessed curriculum documents to identify the reading and writing student expectations that will be eligible for assessment on the redesigned RLA tests.
  • Preliminary blueprints that show the distribution of questions, points, and readiness and supporting standards across reporting categories on the redesigned tests. RLA blueprints also include test design information, including the number of passages, the reading load, and the genres eligible for assessment.

According to TEA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), in the redesigned RLA assessment, the extended constructed response item, or essay question, will ask students to respond to a reading selection (in the past, the essay prompt was not connected to a reading selection), and will ask students to write in one of three possible modes: informational, argumentative, or correspondence (in the past, the only possible mode was informational).

Finally, TEA noted that a set of detailed resources about new non-multiple-choice questions, including examples, will be available in early 2022. Full practice tests that reflect the redesigned state assessment will be available in fall 2022, and students will see new item types on state summative tests beginning in spring 2023.