A Parent Guide to STAR Assessments

Q: What are STAR Assessments?

A: STAR Assessments are short tests that provide teachers with learning data. STAR tests are computer adaptive, which means they adjust to each answer your child provides. This helps teachers get the best data to help your child in the shortest amount of testing time (about one-third of the time other tests take). Star Assessments help educators match the level of instruction and materials to the ability of each student, measure growth throughout the year, predict outcomes on mandated state tests, and track growth in student achievement longitudinally, facilitating the kind of growth analysis recommended by state and federal organizations.

Reading: STAR Reading’s computer-adaptive test and database allows teachers to quickly assess students’ reading comprehension and overall reading achievement. This computer-based progress-monitoring assessment provides immediate feedback to teachers and administrators on each student’s reading development.

Math: First, it provides educators with quick and accurate estimates of students’ instructional math levels relative to national norms. Second, it provides the means for tracking growth in a consistent manner over long time periods for all students.  

Early Literacy: STAR Early Literacy addresses the need to determine children’s mastery of literacy concepts that are directly related to their future success as readers and measures the early literacy skills of beginning readers.

For students, STAR Reading/Math software provides a challenging, interactive, and brief test that builds confidence in their reading/math ability.  

For teachers, the STAR Reading/Math test facilitates individualized instruction by identifying students’ current developmental levels and areas of growth. (Who needs remediation or enrichment most.)

Q: What do teachers do with Star Assessments?

A: Teachers analyze the data they get from Star Assessments to learn what students already know and what they are ready to learn next, to monitor student growth, and to determine which students may need additional help. Star Assessments are heavily researched and scientifically proven to help teachers guide each student on his or her unique path to mastery.

Q: What are the advantages of a computer-based test?

  1. Adaptive Branching: Ability to tailor each student’s test based on his or her responses to previous items. Paper-and-pencil tests are obviously far different from this: every student must respond to the same items in the same sequence. Using computer-adaptive procedures, it is possible for students to test on items that appropriately match their current level of proficiency. The item selection procedures, termed Adaptive Branching, effectively customize the test for each student’s achievement level.  By pinpointing exactly what your child knows, teachers can personalize your child’s practice to keep them growing.
  2. Testing time decreases because, unlike in paper-and-pencil tests, there is no need to expose every student to a broad range of material, portions of which are inappropriate because they are either too easy for high achievers or too difficult for those with low current levels of performance. Plus, short test times ensure your child spends more time learning and less time testing.
  3. Reliability improves over paper-and-pencil tests because the test difficulty matches each individual’s performance level; students do not have to fit a “one test fits all” model. Most of the test items that students respond to are at levels of difficulty that closely match their achievement level. Also, the test items are aligned with CA State Standards.
  4. Student motivation improves simply because of these issues—test time is minimized and test content is neither too difficult nor too easy.

 

Assessment Reports

Teachers have sent home two assessment reports after each testing period.  The Diagnostic Report indicates if a student is below/at/above benchmark and skill information for the individual student.  The Domain Scores section of the Diagnostic Report displays more detail in the scoring results of particular skill areas.  The other, the Parent Report, is an informational letter and summary of the assessment results.

There are numerous scores that are calculated and compared after each assessment.  These scores present a snapshot of achievement at a specific point in time.  As with any test, it is important to remember that many factors can affect a student’s scores.  St. Thomas the Apostle School most closely monitors these three scores:

Percentile Rank (PR) is a norm-referenced score that provides a measure of a student’s ability compared to other students in the same grade nationally.  The percentile rank score, which ranges from 1 to 99, indicates the percentage of other students nationally who obtained scores equal to or lower than the score of a particular student.  For example, a student with a PR score of 85 performed as well as or better than 85% of other students in the same grade.

Scaled Score (SS) is useful for comparing student performance over time and across grades.  A scaled score is calculated based on the difficulty of questions and the number of correct responses.  Because the same range is used for all students, scaled scores can be used to compare student performance across grade levels.  STAR Reading scaled scores range from 1 to 1400.

Student Growth Percentile (SGP) compares a student’s growth to that of his/her academic peers nationwide.  SGPs range from 1-99 and interpretation is similar to that of PR scores; lower numbers indicate lower relative growth and higher numbers show higher relative growth.  For example, an SGP of 70 means that the student’s growth from one test window to another exceeds the growth of 70% of students nationwide in the same grade with a similar achievement history.