New study bolster’s TEA’s contention that STAAR reading test is at proper grade levels
Numerous media outlets have reported on a new University of Texas study commissioned by TEA to look at claims that STAAR Reading tests included questions with readability aligned at grade levels above those being tested.
The issue was a hot topic of conversation last legislative session after a Texas Monthly story quoted a Texas A&M study showing the test was “misaligned” to the proper grade levels. (I covered this in a previous column.)
Unfortunately, the Texas Tribune headline didn’t adequately capture the results of the newly-released study: State-ordered study finds STAAR not too hard for young readers. In fact, as actually noted in the story, the study was not designed to measure difficulty, but instead to evaluate readability. The article notes:
University of Texas at Austin researchers concluded that the vast majority of passages in the 2019 reading and writing exams fell within or below the test’s grade level — appearing to contradict the earlier studies. And they found most of the tests and their questions aligned with what the state expects students to learn in each subject.
….Texas Education Agency officials, who fiercely defended the test earlier this year, are taking the results from the UT study as a clear win. In a statement also released Monday afternoon, the agency said it was “pleased with the report’s findings” that found the assessments are “appropriate to students’ grade level.”
Similarly, the Houston Chronicle led with “difficulty” as well, but outlines more about the study in “Study: STAAR tests appropriately difficult, despite educators’ claims.”
Wading through the new study is pretty difficult unless you’re a researcher involved in the field of readability. (And if you’re not, this study isn’t very readable.) My first impression is that the debate will continue, and that this study won’t be the final word on the matter. We’ll follow the story as it progresses.