Many thanks to Shona Rose for taking the initiative to call the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to discuss issues with how the writing portion of the state assessment, STAAR, has been and will be evaluated. It is heartening to see this exchange which should provide some answers to teachers wanting to provide some practice before the actual test administration. You can read Shona’s blog post here. Part of the concern that led to Shona’s conversation had to do with the fact that, technically, some students could pass the STAAR assessment without passing the essay portion due to the weighting of different parts of the assessment.
It seems as though perhaps one portion of the test might not factor into the overall pass rate. See this follow up post by Shona: http://roseshona.blogspot.com/2017/08/why-didnt-staar-essay-matter.html.