Should there be differences in the instructional preparation for students in classrooms that will be taking the State Test of Academic Achievement and Readiness (STAAR) as opposed to Test of Academic Knowledge and Skills (TAKS)? Once again, the TEKS will be assessed on both; however, the STAAR system, which includes EOCS (End of Course Exams) will test students at a higher cognitive level. San Saba ISD has used the CSCOPE curriculum tool for the past three years. CSCOPE has done a good job keeping up with the changes in assessment and what students will need to master before graduating high school. Three sets of state standards have been revised by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in the last three years; Social Studies (2011), Science (2010), and English (2009). Math will be revised in the next two years. Instead of relying on a textbook to make the changes with these revisions, which wouldn’t happen because of the lack of funding (few science supplemental material are available, and there are still no social studies textbooks available to provide the all the information posted in the revision in TEKS—the new social studies TEKS added forty years to US. History!!), CSCOPE has made these changes and provided guidance for teachers to meet the cognitive rigor that will be assessed on the STAAR. Some problems on the STAAR exam will make students think through 2 to 3 processes before being able to answer the question. Students will have to know information going into the test. Teaching to the cognitive level of the state standards, whether the student is taking a TAKS or STAAR assessment, is not bad! It does create more work for a teacher and student, but it ultimately provides both a more sound instructional foundation. Below is an example of the differences in questioning from an English II TAKS question to an English II STAAR question that assesses the same skill. One must remember that TEA revised the TEKS (state standards) in 2009 for English, two years before the implementation of STAAR. Look at the changes in a TAKS question as opposed to a STAAR question: TAKS Questions (TEA, 2009):2009 Student Expectation: E2.6. The student acquires an extensive vocabulary through reading and systematic word study. The student is expected to:B. Rely on context to determine meanings of words and phrases such as figurative language, [idioms,] multiple-meaning words, and technical vocabulary; SAMPLE QUESTION FROM 2009 TAKS RELEASE TEST: Taken from “Guardian Angel” from 2009 ELA II Release Test: In the fall of 1998, my friend Eleanor, a seasoned traveler, wanted to visit Turkey but couldn’t find anyone to join her. I had always wanted to travel, and figured I had to start somewhere, so I signed on for a five-week trip.12 In paragraph 1, the word seasoned means —F. flavored G. frightened H. experienced J. embarrassedSTAAR RELEASE ITEM (READINESS STANDARD)2011 Student Expectation:E2.1.B—(the student will) analyze textual content (within a sentence and in larger sections of text) to distinguish between the denotative and connotative meanings of wordsThose Winter Sundays by Robert HaydenSundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made 5 banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house.10 Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?1. Why is the multiple meaning of the word “offices” in line 14 important to the poem?A. It refers to both a duty and a service done for others. B. It conveys the father’s mixed emotions. C. It refers to both a place and an executive position. D. It indicates the size of the speaker’s house.As you can see, the STAAR question that measures the similar skill requires extensively much more thinking. This practice definitely doesn’t hurt a student that will being taking the TAKS test this year, in fact it is the type of thinking that will be needed to enter college. These “College Readiness Standards” have been included in the revision in TEKS and will now be assessed on the STAAR exam. Students that were able to pass a TAKS test will definitely be more challenged on a STAAR exam, but conversely students that can reason out questions on the STAAR exam should have not problem with a TAKS assessment. Which instruction would you want for your child?