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Why isn’t the passing standard for each STAAR assessment set at 70% of the questions correct?

While many people believe a raw score that is equal to 70% of the questions correct should qualify
as passing, a score that is simply the percentage of questions correct does not take into account
the difficulty of the questions on a test. A student who gets 50% of the questions correct on a very
difficult test will likely demonstrate a higher mastery of subject matter or course content than a
student who gets 90% of the questions correct on a very easy test. For example, you are given a
ten-question test on calculus, and you answer 7 out of 10 questions correctly, which equals 70%.
Another person is given a ten-question test on multiplication and answers 7 out of 10 questions
correctly, which equals 70%. Although you both answer 70% of the questions correctly, it would
not be accurate to say that both of you demonstrate the same level of mathematics proficiency.

Your test covered more difficult content—calculus as compared to multiplication.
Scale scores are a better indicator of a student’s mastery of test content. While raw scores on
STAAR will be available to students, parents, and teachers, it is important to understand that
answering fewer than 70% of the questions correctly on a test does not necessarily indicate poor
performance either in terms of scale scores or mastery of the assessed content.

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