When it comes to STAAR tests, students do have some options

(MGN/file)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) When it comes to STAAR tests, students have the option of substituting a qualifying score on a college or advanced placement exam to fulfill a STAAR test requirement.

"A student can use a qualifying score on a substitute assessment to satisfy his or her testing requirement for an EOC test,” an email from the Texas Education Agency to Tami Wiethorn, assessment coordinator for the Waco Independent School District.

The EOC, or End of Course exam, is what high school students must take to move on to the next grade level or graduate.

There are five components to the EOC, which students start taking in 9th grade that include, Algebra 1, Biology, English 1 & 2, and U.S. History.

For students who take the practice Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT, the American College Test (ACT) or the advanced placement course test for AP classes and score high enough--and there is a corresponding End of Course test subject--then they can use the grade on the other test rather than taking the EOC test on that subject.

For example, a student who took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test or PSAT in eighth grade and scored a 480 on the math portion has the option of substituting that score for the Algebra portion of the End of Course exam when he enters ninth grade.

"This is the state's attempt however complicated to say well we have options. Students have some options that are available to them, but with these options there is always the little fine print that goes below each of them with the criteria at set for that,” Wiethorn said.

She said state legislators and parents have been talking about how there are some students who have proven they are college-ready, even taking college course, who may not have passed a portion of the End of Course exam.

"The question came up (that) if they've performed well enough to go into college on an SAT or ACT why shouldn’t that score count?"

Andre Watkins has a sophomore student at Waco High School who is taking an Advanced Placement biology class and he plans to take the SAT or ACT for college.

"I think that it's a good thing to give children an opportunity to be successful and I think that sometimes systematically and personally we've failed our children and they deserve a chance to be successful based on their own merits,” he said.

Campus counselors should know who qualifies for the substitution, but the Waco ISD says it is also up to parents to advocate for their children.

The parents of a student who took the PSAT in eighth grade and scored 480 on the math portion should make sure the school knows he has fulfilled the Algebra I EOC test requirement.

The minimum scores can change from year to year and they are different depending on which substitute test a child takes.

The TSI or Texas Success Initiative Assessment substitution rules are very different.

The TSI is required of incoming college students in Texas who fail to achieve adequate scores on either the SAT or the ACT.

Based on performance, students who take the test may be enrolled in a college-level course or placed in a remedial course.

For students taking the TSI, those scores can count only if the student has failed to pass the EOC twice.

For example, the TSI English Language Arts assessment is the only assessment that may be used to simultaneously fulfill two EOC requirements; for example the English I and English II STAAR tests.

However, a passing English Score on the SAT can only be used for either English I or English II STAAR test.