What Does STAAR and STAAR A Mean to Me, the OT?


Guest Blogger Nichole Kertis, Region 13 ESC


It’s that time of year again… Are you getting bombarded with handwriting referrals as teachers recognize students don’t have the skills to pass STAAR writing tests?  Many of us are getting questions like this:  “I have a student in 4th grade whose handwriting is so poor that writing benchmarks have been impossible to score.  Accommodations we’ve tried thus far have included raised lined paper, and access to word processing which have not really been successful.  We’d like an OT evaluation.”
It’s crunch time for determining which STAAR assessment students will take; which accommodations and assistive technology are effective; and how to get students using them routinely and independently.  The pressure is on and teachers are stressed.  This year’s new online STAAR A assessment offers various embedded digital accommodations for eligible students, adding another layer of decision making and preparation. Here are several ideas to consider:
  •      Occupational therapists routinely evaluate and determine interventions and accommodations for improved handwriting performance.  In our digital age and with STAAR assessments allowing students with spelling and fine motor/handwriting disabilities to use Type I accommodations such as word prediction and speech-to-text, OT evaluations should provide a comprehensive written productivity profile comparing writing tasks to similar tasks using keyboarding, word prediction, and speech-to-text.  The data will show which accommodation is the most effective for the student.    
  •        OTs should be familiar with the eligibility criteria for and differences between the regular STAAR with Type 1 writing accommodations (see Spelling and Basic Transcribing in TEAs Accommodations Triangle) vs. STAAR A.
  •      OTs might observe students while taking the STAAR A student tutorial ​and identify any components that you can help problem solve (ex: enlarged cursor, alternate mouse, cue card, etc).  Note: Mouse skills have decreased with increased use of touch screens.
  •      Recognize that iPads/apps, while having great instructional potential, are not currently allowed for STAAR assessments, so help staff plan accordingly
  •      Debrief with students and teachers after STAAR A is completed and apply to next year’s preparations
 Resource Links:


Return to top of Featured Article Page




Author By

Nichole Kurtis, Region 3 ESC


Handwriting referrals to school OTs related to STAAR and STAAR-A tests.

Created at 9/27/2019 11:51 AM by Srivani Erukulla
Last modified at 6/21/2021 2:34 PM by Janine Calmes