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Understanding the STAR Test

Understanding the STAR Test

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - July 24th, 2013

In the world of standardized testing, the STAR test has been around for many years. It was initiated in 1998 to replace a testing battery which had been in use for nearly thirty years. Here, we’ll review the test itself, what it entails and why it’s being replaced.

What it Is

STAR stands for Standardized Testing And Reporting. Since 1998 it has been the accepted measure of educational standards for the state of California. Its results, coupled with the results of the California High School Exit Examination, are intended to deliver an accurate picture of how well students are absorbing what they learn in school. The STAR test is administered to grades two through eleven, while the California High School Exit Examination is administered to graduating seniors. You can read a more detailed description of the entire STAR program and tests at

What It Tests

There are four main subjects focused on by the STAR test. They are shifted, added and removed at age-appropriate intervals.

Students in grades two through eleven are tested on English language arts (ELA) skills and math. In grades four through seven, a writing test is added. Grades five through eleven also receive a science test. In grades nine, ten and eleven, students are also tested on history or social science, also sometimes called social studies.

Testing always occurs in the spring. There are strict guidelines regarding when the test must be taken. The testing date must be within ten days of 85% completion of the school year.

Why It’s Being Replaced

As of 2014, the STAR test will officially expire and will be replaced by the State Standards Initiative Common Core battery. The State Standards test is administered to every grade level, beginning in either kindergarten or pre-kindergarten and continuing through a student’s senior year of high school. Tested subjects include English language arts, math, science and history. There are some valuable aspects in the Common Core test which are missing in the STAR test, such as essays and computer skills; it is generally accepted that the Common Core test is a better assessment tool.

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