When I was a kid, test scores came by mail, and you had a moment to hold the envelope and take a deep breath before you knew the results. These days, test scores arrive in an email that starts something like, “To the parents of . . . .” It may be summer, but when I checked my email, my mind got yanked back from daydreams about beaches and swimming holes by the arrival of a set of six-digit codes that will allow me to access my kids’ most recent standardized test scores. It might be tempting to archive that email, but I strongly recommend that you follow a few steps to access your children’s STAAR report cards and find personalized resources to help them make even more progress in the coming school year.
Access Your Child’s STAAR Report Card
If your child attended a public school in Texas last year—including charter schools, magnet schools, and traditional public schools—and was in grades 3–8 for the STAAR exam or took a high school end-of-course exam (EOC), then they will have testing data in the Texas Education Agency’s parent portal.
The first step for accessing your child’s report card is to visit TexasAssessment.gov. If you have your child’s six-digit code, use that and their birthday to log in. (If not, you can look up the unique access code with their first name, Social Security number, and birthday.)
The first screen that pops up is for testing history. The most recent results are on top; you can scroll down to find data from previous school years. (Keep in mind that the TEA did not administer the STAAR test in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.) In the upper right, there is an icon to download report cards in a two-page pdf format, which is handy for printing and sharing.
For each subject, there is an icon that shows if a student’s score was in range for Masters, Meets, Approaches, or Does Not Meet Grade Level.
Let’s take a closer look at the test results in one subject—reading. This page has lots of data, and it’s worth scrolling down. There is a bar showing your child’s score and comparing it to the averages for their campus and district, and the state.
Scroll down a bit, and you’ll see information on performance and progress, showing where your child’s score falls on the continuum, and comparing their most recent scores with past years’. (If your child was in third grade last year, then there is no earlier data for comparison.)
The caption suggests that “you can use this information as one of the many tools to gauge your child’s academic performance across these two years.” That’s an important point—standardized testing is only part of the picture of how a student is performing in school and how well they will be prepared for the future.
Scroll down a bit further, and you’ll see how many questions your child answered correctly among different categories of the test.
Next, you’ll learn your child’s Lexile measure. This is a tool for finding reading materials at the right level of difficulty to help your child grow.
You can use your child’s Lexile score to find books that will challenge them, but not frustrate them—and on topics that they find interesting.
In a section below, I will show you more about using the Find a Book Tool, and similar tools for math. For now, let’s look inside the test results.
Look Inside the Tests
Convincing the public that standardized testing is valid is an uphill battle. If you are a skeptical parent, you want to look for yourself at the questions that your child saw on their test. The tab for detailed results shows a list of questions, their category, your child’s response, the correct response, and campus, district, and state comparisons.
For each test question, the portal shows what the student saw on the test, such as a passage to read and questions about that passage. It specifies which part of the TEKS the question was meant to evaluate; for item 1, that was 10(D) of the fifth grade reading TEKS, on page 5 of this document.
The tab on the far right offers resources and strategies to help your child improve their understanding.
Those are all of the tabs for the subject of reading; going back to the testing history tab will allow you to access your child’s results in other subjects, which vary by grade level. To access data for siblings, log out and log in again with a new access code and birthday.
Find Personalized Resources
In an earlier post, we shared advice from Nathan Balasubramanian about how to use STAAR test scores to find personalized resources to help your children learn. I recommend reading that post for the “why”; here, I will show you the “how” for accessing book recommendations and math exercises that fit your child’s Lexile and Quantile scores.
To find your child’s Lexile score, visit the TEA’s parent portal at TexasAssessment.gov and look up their testing results, or download their printable STAAR report card. Once you have that number, click on the Find a Book Tool. If you don’t know your child’s Lexile score, or if you’re curious, you can find book recommendations by grade level, too.
The next step is to select some categories that appeal to your child’s interests. For my daughter, I picked fairy tales and mysteries.
What did the Find a Book Tool recommend for you? Scroll down and look for suggestions. You can take these ideas to the library and order online for pickup, browse the shelves, or ask a children’s librarian for help.
There is a similar process for finding personalized math resources based on your child’s Quantile measure. Using Quantile tools like Math@Home, you can access practice math problems that are tailored to your child’s level—not too simple and not too frustrating.
I found a free quiz about dividing fractions on Mathopolis. This would provide a good challenge for a fifth grader. Maybe math problems are not the most fun way to spend summer, but you could balance it out with some reading for pleasure, playing outside, and road tripping.
You did it! You’re now an expert on your child’s STAAR report card. This is a tool you can use to advocate for your child to get the best possible education, in spite of the challenges of the pandemic.
Where to Go from Here
Students, families, and teachers experienced unprecedented disruptions during a year of pandemic schooling. But it’s better to know where your kids stand now, and where they need help, so that the coming school year can be an opportunity for a reboot and a fresh start. I hope these STAAR report cards are a good starting point for constructive conversations with your kids’ teachers. If you are getting stuck on these steps or need to talk it through, join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook and get help from parents and caregivers who are walking the same journey—trying to get our kids a great education.
Read More About STAAR Report Cards
- “‘Performance declines are noticeable’—STAAR results show retreat, disparities in student scores during pandemic,” Andres Picon, San Antonio Express-News, June 28, 2021
- “Standardized Math Scores Drop In San Antonio Following Pandemic,” Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio, June 28, 2021
- “Texas students’ standardized test scores dropped dramatically during the pandemic, especially in math,” Reese Oxner, Texas Tribune, June 28, 2021
- “San Antonio students’ STAAR scores drop below pre-pandemic levels,” Brooke Crum, San Antonio Report, June 28, 2021
- “TEA Releases Spring 2021 STAAR Grades 3-8 and End-of-Course Assessment Results; Outcomes for In-Person Learners Appreciably Higher Than for Those Who Were Remote,” Texas Education Agency, June 28, 2021
- “STAAR Scores Plunge in All Subjects but English Following 2019 Drops in Federal Scores,” Isaiah Mitchell, Texan News, June 18, 2021
- “Improve Your Children’s Learning With Insights From STAAR Test Scores,” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, May 26, 2021