Star Information

What is Star?

Star Assessments (published by Renaissance Learning) are a suite of computer-adaptive assessments that measure students’ reading and math skills, monitor achievement and growth, and track how well students understand skills aligned to state and Common Core standards.  We began using Star District-wide in 2019-20 to identify students who are meeting grade- and term-level benchmarks in literacy and math, as well as those who may need additional support or interventions.

Star assessments are timed, adaptive, and administered on a computer. This means that there is a time limit for each question (up to 3 minutes), and that questions become more or less difficult depending on student responses (for example, if a student answers a question incorrectly, the next question may be easier). Therefore, two students taking the same assessment may receive different question sets depending on their responses.

Click below for tables that outline the tested skills.

Star Early Literacy (K-2)

Star Early Literacy assesses proficiency in three broad domains: Word Knowledge and Skills, Comprehension Strategies and Constructing Meaning, and Numbers and Operations. Star Early Literacy scaled scores provide an individualized assessment of students’ literacy/numeracy skill development to identify students who need intervention or enrichment on specific skills. Scores will enable teachers to easily track progress and facilitate individualized instruction.

Domain Skills/Topics Assessed
Word Knowledge and Skills Measures students’ letter recognition, phonemic awareness, and word decoding skills, as well as their ability to apply phonics and vocabulary strategies to identify new words.
Comprehension Strategies and Constructing Meaning Measures students’ comprehension through written and oral word identification, sentence topic identification, and multiple-choice questions about story passages.
Numbers and Operations Measures students’ early numeracy development through number naming and recognition, counting and ordering, and simple addition and subtraction.

Star Reading Curriculum-Based Measures (CBM) (K-5)

Star Curriculum-Based Measures (CBMs) are designed to assess discrete, foundational grade-level literacy skills. In kindergarten and first grade, this includes students’ understanding of letters and their sounds, basic phonological awareness, and early decoding. In second through fifth grade, CBMs assess students’ reading progress. CBMs scores are presented as the number of items students answer correctly in one minute. The following section provides additional data about what the Star CBM Reading assessments will measure at each grade level.

Grade Domain Skills/Topics Assessed
Kindergarten Letter naming The number of upper- and lowercase letters students can identify in a random sequence.
Kindergarten Receptive nonsense words The number of nonsense words students can identify when presented with both CVC words and CVC nonsense words. Administered as a verbal assessment.
Kindergarten, Grade 1 Letter sounds The number of letter sounds (consonants only; no vowels a, e, i, o, u, or y are included) that students can pronounce.
Kindergarten, Grade 1 Phoneme segmentation The number of phoneme components students can pronounce in common 3-phoneme grade-level appropriate words.
Grades 1-2 Expressive nonsense words The number of nonsense words students can identify when presented with both CVC words and CVC nonsense words. Administered as a written assessment.
Grades 1-5 Oral passage reading The number of words students can identify in a grade-level appropriate text.

Star Reading (3-12)

Star Reading assesses students’ skills in vocabulary, reading comprehension, analyzing literary text, understanding author’s craft, and analyzing argument and evaluating text. Students are asked a total of 34 reading questions, which include 10 questions about vocabulary in context, as well as a range of questions spanning the domains. However, the number of questions in each domain presented to a student depends on their grade.

Domain Skills/Topics Assessed
Vocabulary: Word Knowledge and Skills Measures students’ knowledge and understanding of vocabulary, as well as their ability to apply vocabulary strategies.
Comprehension Strategies and Constructing Meaning Short passages ask students to use strategies such as self-monitoring, making predictions, drawing conclusions, and using the organizational structure of the text to improve understanding.
Analyzing Literary Text Students are asked to explore the plot, setting, character, theme, and point of view in literary text, as well as the characteristics of different genres.
Understanding Author’s Craft Measures students’ understanding and analysis of an author’s use of language and literary devices to create certain effects.
Analyzing Argument and Evaluating Text Asks students to recognize, analyze, and evaluate arguments in persuasive, editorial, and academic writing.

Star Math Curriculum-Based Measures (CBMs) (K-3)

Curriculum Based Measures are designed to assess discrete, foundational grade-level math skills. Star CBM Math will assesses kindergarten and first-grade students’ developing math competency, including recognizing numerals and their value. For second- and third-grade students’ their basic facts in addition, subtraction, and multiplication will be assessed. CBM scores are presented as the number of items students answer correctly in one minute. The following table provides additional information about the math skills Star CBMs will measure at each grade level.

Grade Domain Skills/Topics Assessed
Kindergarten, Grade 1 (Fall) Numeral recognition How many numbers between 0-100 students can identify when presented in a random order.
Kindergarten Quantity comparison How many times students can identify the larger number (0-30) in a given pair.
Grade 1 Addition to 10 The number of addition problems students can solve correctly. (All answers will equal no greater than 10.)
Grade 2 Addition to 20 The number of addition problems students can solve correctly (all answers will equal no greater than 20.)
Grades 2-3 Subtraction from 10 The number of subtraction problems students can solve correctly (all answers will equal 10 or less.)
Grade 3 Mixed addition and subtraction The number of addition and subtraction problems using numerals between 0 and 20 students can solve correctly. (All answers will equal no greater than 20.)
Grade 3 Multiplication to 100 The number of correct responses to multiplication
problems using numerals between 0 and 10. (All answers will equal no greater than 100.)

Star Math (3-12)

Star Math assesses students’ skills in numbers and operations; algebra, geometry and measurement; and data analysis, statistics, and probability. Students are asked a total of 34 math questions. However, the number of questions in each domain presented to a student depends on their grade.

Domain Skills/Topics Assessed
Numbers and Operations Measures students’ ability to count and compare numbers; add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. This domain also covers primes, square roots, percentages, and numerical expressions.
Algebra Students are asked to graph points and functions, evaluate variables, solve linear and nonlinear equations, simplify expressions, and complete other key algebraic tasks.
Geometry and Measurement Measures students’ ability to identify shapes, lines, and angles; determine and convert measurements; tell time; calculate the perimeter, area, volume, and surface area of shapes; and determine missing measurements or dimensions.

Star measures student performance and growth using multiple metrics. The District uses three primary metrics:

  • Scaled Score: A student’s scaled score is calculated based on the difficulty of the questions and the number of correct responses. Because the same range of questions is used for students across all grade levels, scaled scores can be used to compare student performance across grade levels. All norm-referenced scores, such as the Percentile Rank and SGP (see below), are based on a student’s scaled score. Both Star Reading and Math scaled scores range from 0 to 1400.
  • Percentile Rank: A student’s percentile rank is a norm-referenced performance measure that compares a student’s scaled score to her grade-level peers nationwide. The Percentile Rank is useful for understanding a student’s reading ability compared to other students in the same grade nationally.
  • Tier: Based on a student’s Percentile Rank, students are categorized into one of four performance Tiers, which indicate the level of intervention students need in order to reach proficiency:
    • Intensive Intervention (Below the 10th percentile)
    • Strategic Intervention (Between and including the 10th percentile and the 24th percentile)
    • On Watch (between and including the 25th percentile and the 39th percentile)
    • At/Above Benchmark (the 40th percentile or above)
  • Student Growth Percentile (SGP): The SGP is a norm-referenced metric that compares a student’s growth to her “academic peers” – i.e., students in the same grade with a similar score history – nationwide. Measured on a 1-99 scale; lower numbers indicate lower relative growth and higher numbers indicate higher relative growth. For example, an SGP of 75 means that the student has shown more growth than 75% of her academic peers.

Through 2020-21, the District has used Star data to track 6-12th grade proficiency and growth over time using the metrics outlined above. The District looks at this data overall, by Network, and by grade band, as well as by student characteristics (such as race/ethnicity, English Learner status, and Special Education status).

Schools and teachers use data from progress monitoring administrations to better understand students’ growth and proficiency in specific skills. If a student is struggling to master a specific skill, teachers can use progress monitoring to assess whether the instruction and intervention they are providing is moving the student toward mastery.

More information

The Office of Assessment maintains the assessment calendar and coordinates administration.
They can be reached at assessment@philasd.org.