4th Grade Writing in Texas: What My 4th Grader Needs to Know

The Texas Education Agency requires K-12 students to take the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) every year. The STAAR program measures knowledge of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards. Read on to find out how you can prepare your 4th grader for the STAAR writing test.

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Overview of the STAAR 4th Grade Writing Test

Composition

Your child will be asked to compose two essays. He or she will be given writing prompts and directed to write a personal narrative on one day and an expository essay on the next day. In expository writing, the student is asked to define, explain or describe something for the reader.

Both essays will be scored on organization/progression, development of ideas and use of language/conventions. For example, expository essays that are well organized will begin with a central idea or topic sentence, include supporting information and contain a concluding statement. The essays will be scored using a four-point rubric, where four is the highest possible score and one is the lowest. A score of three is considered satisfactory.

Revising and Editing

The revising and editing sections of the test will include a series of short passages followed by multiple-choice questions. These questions will ask students to show how a particular sentence from the corresponding passage could be corrected or improved. Additional questions might ask how the organization or development of the passage could be improved.

Your child will also be tested on written conventions, such as parts of speech, simple and compound sentences, capitalization, punctuation and spelling. Both fiction and nonfiction passages are included.

More Information

Visit the Texas Education Agency's website to find more information about the STAAR writing assessment for 4th graders, as well as released test questions and scoring rubrics. It may also be helpful to read the full 4th grade writing assessment document, which details how the test addresses each of the 4th grade writing skills.

How Parents Can Help

Your child can prepare for the multiple-choice section of the writing assessment by working hard on proofreading throughout the year. Every time your child writes an essay or story for school, work with him or her on editing and revising the piece. Be sure your child understands how to organize an essay, and show him or her some strategies for 'pre-writing,' like using an outline or a story web.

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