New Study Reaffirms That STAAR Reading Tests Are Not on Grade Level

Mimi Swartz:

Opponents of the STAAR test have new evidence that the reading portion of the standardized exam given to all Texas schoolchildren remains flawed.

Professors Susan Szabo and Becky Barton Sinclair, both of Texas A&M University-Commerce, have just released a new report, “Readability of the STAAR Test is Still Misaligned,” that reaffirms what the two found in their similar 2012 study: that, for the most part, reading tests given to students in grades 3–8 are at a level of difficulty at least one year above grade level.

Szabo and Sinclair used eight different readability formulas to examine the reading portion of the STAAR, as opposed to the five they used in 2012. A careful reading of the paper shows what could be interpreted as an astounding lack of consistency: some test questions were written below grade level, while others were written far above. For instance, all five passages on the fourth-grade test were “misaligned,” with one question below grade level and four above. In sixth grade, one question was written at the appropriate grade level, three were above, and one was below.