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A Review of STAR Math

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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star math
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Overview

STAR Math is an online assessment program developed by Renaissance Learning for students typically in grades 1-12. The program assesses fifty-three sets of math skills in four domains to determine a student’s overall math achievement. Those domains include numbers and operations, algebra, geometry and measurement, and data analysis, statistics, and probability. There are 558 total grade-specific skills that STAR Math tests. The program is designed to provide teacher’s with individual student data quickly and accurately. It typically takes a student 15-20 minutes to complete an assessment and reports are available immediately upon completion.

The test begins with three practice questions designed to ensure that the student knows how to use the system. The test itself consists of twenty-seven math questions varying by grade level across those four domains. Students have three minutes to answer each question before the program automatically moves them to the next question.

Features

STAR Math is easy to set up and use. STAR Math is a Renaissance Learning program. This is important because if you have Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Math, or any of the other STAR assessments, you only have to do the set up one time. Adding students and building classes is quick and easy. You can add a class of twenty students and have them ready to be assessed in about 15 minutes.

STAR Math correlates with Accelerated Math. Many schools across the country use Accelerated Math. STAR Math provides teachers with the appropriate library that each student should be enrolled in for the Accelerated Math program. Students who work in the Accelerated Math program should see significant growth in the STAR Math score.

STAR Math is easy for students to use. The interface is plain and straight forward. This minimizes the chances for a student to be distracted. Students have two choices when answering the multiple choice style questions. They can use their mouse and click on the correct choice or they can use the A, B, C, D keys that correlate to the correct answer. Students are not locked into their answer until they click next or push the enter key. Each question is on a three minute timer. When a student has fifteen seconds remaining a small clock will begin to flash at the top of the screen letting them know that time is about to expire for that question.

STAR Math provides teachers with a tool to easily screen and progress monitor students who need reading intervention. STAR Math comes with a screening and progress monitor tool that allows teachers to set goals and monitor a student’s progress as they move throughout the year. This easy to use feature allows teachers to quickly and accurately decide whether they need to change their approach with a particular student or continue doing what they are doing.

STAR Math has an adaptable assessment bank. STAR Math has an extensive assessment bank that allows students to be assessed multiple times without seeing the same question. In addition the program adapts to the student as they answer questions. If a student is performing well, then the questions will increasingly become more difficult. If they are struggling the questions will become easier. The program will eventually zero in on the student’s correct level.

Reports

STAR Math is designed to provide teacher’s with useful information that will drive their instructional practices. STAR Math provides teachers with several useful reports designed to assist in targeting which students need intervention and what areas they need assistance in.

Here are four key reports available through STAR Math and a brief explanation of each:

Diagnostic: The diagnostic report provides the most information about an individual student. If offers information such as the student’s grade equivalent, percentile rank, percentile range, normal curve equivalent, and recommended Accelerated Math library. It also provides tips to maximize that individual’s math growth. In addition it details where a student is specifically in meeting both numeration and computational objectives.

Growth: This report shows the growth of a group of students over a specific period of time. This period of time is customizable from a few weeks, to months, to even growth over the course of several years.

Screening: This report provides teachers with a graph that details whether they are above or below their benchmark as they are assessed throughout the year. This report is useful because if students are falling below the mark, then the teacher needs to change their approach with that student.

Summary: This report provides teachers with whole group test results for a specific test date or range. This is a very useful report for comparing multiple students at one time.

Relevant Terminology

Scaled Score (SS) – The scaled score is figured based on the difficulty of the questions as well of the number of questions that were correct. STAR Math uses a scale range of 0-1400. This score can be used to compare students to each other as well as themselves over time.

Percentile Rank (PR) – The percentile rank allows students to be compared to other students nationally that are in the same grade. For example, a student who scores in the 54th percentile scores better than 53% of students in their grade, but lower than 45% of students in their grade.

Grade Equivalent (GE) – The grade equivalent represents how a student does compared to other students nationally. For example, a fourth grade student who scores a grade equivalent of an 7.6 scores as well as a student who is in the seventh grade and sixth month.

Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE) – The normal curve equivalent is a norm-referenced score useful for making comparisons between two different standardized tests. Ranges for this scale are from 1-99.

Recommended Accelerated Math Library – The recommended Accelerated Math library provides the teacher with the specific grade level that the student should be enrolled in for Accelerated Math. This is specific to the student based on their performance on the STAR Math assessment.

Overall

STAR Math is a terrific mathematics assessment program especially if you already use the Accelerated Math program. The broad range of skills that it accesses is appropriate for getting valuable information to drive your mathematics instruction. Math intervention is behind when compared to reading intervention overall. However, STAR Math provides teachers with a wonderful tool to benchmark, progress monitor, and to guide intervention. Overall, I give STAR Math 5 out of 5 stars because I believe it is a program on the forefront of providing teachers with accurate information that will allow them to differentiate instruction and improve overall math skills.

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