Apples to Oranges

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
picked by Lori

Did you get some news last week? Here in the great state of Texas we did! An email from our testing coordinator hit while I happened to be sitting at my desk. I picked up my phone to dial my favorite 4-digit extension. Suz answered, and all I had to say in a hushed and somber tone was, "the eagle has landed."

Here's the rub, STAAR friends, we're not looking at apples to apples and you don't need me to tell you that. Since our entire test changed, it's hard for us to even measure growth. Unless...unless you're sneaky and tricky like me. 

Essay scores don't match up to last year's? Here's why...
Weeks ago, I knew this was coming and I knew I wanted to measure growth. So I took a data snapshot from Aware--our data management tool--that outlined students SAQ scores and their essay scores. Then I was prepared to drop in their current SAQ scores and essay scores. That's the only way you can see growth, folks. If you don't have these numbers disaggregated in your data management system, sidle up to your testing coordinator and ask him or her for the PDF straight from TEA. It's got everything you want to see broken out into reporting categories. 

But the fun part is that our Lone Star State also decided to change the way essays are scored. Sit back and relax and allow me to explain. Adjacent scoring is still in play. Adjacent scoring means that two graders give a score to each essay based on a scale of 1-4. The scores are adjacent as long as they are only one point away from one another. 

  • For example, Grader 1 gives the essay a 3. Grader 2 gives the essay a 4. Those scores are adjacent (next to each other).
Those adjacent scores are added together (3+4=7) and then that total is multiplied by 3 to get the total number of points (7x3=21). The student in this example is a rockstar and has received 21 out of 24 possible points. 

When scores are not adjacent, they go into an "adjudication queue." The adjudicated score is the final score, taking no other graders into account. 

Clear as mud?

Here's another friendly tip to consider as you begin to look through your testing data. Always pay attention to your average score. For the English I test, passing equates to a 49%. English II is looking at a 50%. Neither of those numbers thrills me, by the way. Both are scaled scores of 3750. Average score matters because while you could have seen an increase in the number of students passing, think about how they passed. If those English I kids just eked by, then they are already behind the mark as English II students. Just something to keep in mind. The same holds true for English II kids and upcoming college readiness measures. 

Also, it's important to always look at the scale score. Based on the number of items on each test, the % may change. That's why you'll see lower percent scores still hitting a passing scaled score on summer retests--those test have fewer items. Follow the links below to TEA's raw score conversion tables. These are conversions for the 2014 paper-based tests. It basically contains everything I just explained with waaaaaaay less words.

And apologies. English teachers are lovely people, but by and large, we were not necessarily designed to enjoy math. My guess is that someone with a vendetta against an English teacher devised the scoring for our test and they are laughing in Austin as I type. 

We hope that you have lots to celebrate after looking at your scores and how they support your instruction.  But you might be thinking wracking your brain about what to do for those kiddos that weren't successful this go-around.  

Consider some of these products in our TpT store to help you plan your summer acceleration program:

Once and Done Sports Blitz- most bang for your buck
Creating MovieSTAARS
*20* Expository Prompts
*20* Persuasive Prompts
Words to Know, Words to Grow

May your summer be a fruitful one!


  1. Did the 2014 Raw Score Conversions show after they released the results? I'm trying to figure out why I only had 2013 PDFs for 6-8 grade reading. Also, can you help me understand - Scale Score is REALLY what you have to go by...right? Reason being, the 8th grade passing on the 1st admin was with 26 questions...last year it was 28 questions. Possible there was a "bad" question they threw out?? Just curious to see your thinking. :)

    1. Teresa...our faithful friend! We've missed you. :) I don't think I understand your first question about the 2013 PDFs. Did you not receive your PDFs for this administration? Your testing coordinator should have them. Raw Score Conversions were released after the test, I believe. As far as your second question is concerned, YES. Always look at scale score because that number will not fluctuate. However, depending on the number of items on the test, the percent score CAN fluctuate. I hope I've answered your questions. If not, shoot me an email. :) Enjoy your last day of school, and have a restful summer!

    2. I think I was asleep when I posted! I had downloaded 2013 raw scores from TEA and I was no sure if I had MISSED the 2014 or if they were just put online. You helped me figure it out. :)