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A Guide to the STAR Reading Test for 3rd and 4th Grade 2023

A Guide to the STAR Reading Test for 3rd and 4th Grade 2023

Updated March 16, 2023

By Kenny Jarvis
Kenny Jarvis

Reading is one of the most important skills a child needs to gain in elementary school. Your child's reading proficiency level can have a significant impact on the progress of their education from an early age.

STAR Reading tests can help you assess their aptitude level so you can see if your child's reading skills need improvement.

Here is everything you need to know about STAR Reading tests for 3rd grade and 4th grade students.

What Are STAR Reading Assessments?

STAR Reading assessments are a type of aptitude test that determine a child's current proficiency levels and forecast potential future performance.

They are computer-adaptive tests, which means they are run by a program that continually adjusts the difficulty of the test by displaying questions based on the accuracy of the previous answer.

If the answer to a question was correct, the difficulty of the next one is increased. If it is incorrect, the difficulty level decreases.

This spares the children from encountering questions that are too difficult or too easy for them. This way, testing can be done in 15 minutes, and the results become a true representation of the child's current reading ability.

The tests consist of multiple-choice questions, with three-to-four answer choices, regardless of the grade.

The assessment is designed to test only the reading comprehension skills of students and the progress they make with these skills. While the process is always supervised, the students are required to answer the questions without the teacher's involvement.

Not all questions are timed, but some of them are, so the testing can move along at an acceptable rate.

What Is on a STAR Reading Test for 3rd and 4th Grade?

When it comes to the content of the test, there are some fundamental things to know so you can prepare your child for them.

The tests are structured uniquely, and their subject matter is tailored to each grade. The STAR Reading test has 34 multiple choice questions, which should take between 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

The questions may vary from passages the children should interpret to sentences in which a word has to be replaced.

Overall, the STAR reading test covers five core topics:

  • Word Knowledge and Skills – This tests the child's vocabulary knowledge, comprehension and ability to apply words in different contexts.
  • Comprehension Strategies and Constructing Meaning – This covers the child's ability to make predictions based on what they are reading and utilize text framing to draw their own conclusions.
  • Analyzing Short Literary Text – This involves assessing the child's capacity to understand each element of a literary text and examine them. The question may refer to the theme, the plot, the setting or the characters in the story.
  • Understanding the Author’s Craft – This tests the child's ability to understand and analyze the language used by the author and determine the reason for literary devices used in the text.
  • Analyzing Argument and Evaluating Text – This assesses the child's skills in recognizing, comprehending and analyzing persuasive techniques and argumentative language tailored to their current grade.

All these topics are meant to assess the child's overall reading abilities and provide a highly targeted learning experience for each child.

Furthermore, the STAR Reading test can be used for predicting performance in standardized state testing. This is a good indicator of the student's readiness to be selected into an Accelerated Reading program.

How to Prepare for a STAR Reading Test in the 3rd and 4th Grade (2023)

The teacher responsible for test coordination will provide instructions for preparing your child for a STAR Reading test.

This typically involves explaining to your child that they have to complete this test the same way they would do any school assignment. They must provide their full attention so their ability can be accurately assessed.

Here are some general suggestions on how to prepare your child for a STAR reading test in the 3rd and the 4th grades, along with the purpose and the method for each tip.

Step 1. Read a Wide Variety of Materials

By the time your child gets to the 3rd or 4th grade, they are expected to have mastered the elementary decoding skills necessary for overcoming all the phonics-related challenges.

However, some children at this age still struggle with understanding phonic instructions or are unable to use them in practice. This prevents them from setting up the appropriate spelling strategies for multiple syllable words.

If your child has similar issues, you may want to pay particular attention to this when preparing them for their STAR Reading assessment.

The easiest way to do this is simply to get them to read anything that's appropriate for their age. This can be anything from the newspaper to advertising leaflets to the grocery list.

Ask them to read it aloud and, when your child is reading, you can help them improve in decoding phonics by pointing out words that are the exception to the phonic rules.

Grocery shopping can be a fun way to practice sounding out loud irregular words. Try getting your child to find an item with a name like this just by spelling it out for them.

Another great way to practice letter combinations is by using your child's favorite toys or treats. Whether you do it with Play-Doh, chalk or cereal, spelling out the word with multiple syllables can help your child learn how to use decoding the proper way.

Word-based board games can also inspire your child to master this elementary skill.

If you want 12-month access to all the practice resources for this test, our partner offers a Family Membership.

Family Membership gives you access to all the TestPrep-Online resources for the next 12 months. You will also get two separate accounts, which can be very helpful if you have two children preparing for their tests.

Step 2. Discuss Reading Material

Third and 4th graders are also required to have an appropriate level of reading comprehension.

Naturally, this goes far beyond properly decoding phonics. Comprehension means that the child can interact with the text by contemplating the meaning of the words and their combination.

Part of the preparation process should be spent making sure your child understands what they are reading or you are reading to them. At this age, they must be able to build a capacity to place an image behind each word.

Fortunately, there are some reading comprehension strategies you can try to practice with your child. One of the simplest ones is having your child read a book aloud and stopping from time to time to discuss what they have read.

Ask them to put the story together by themselves first, and if they can't, you may help them. With more challenging reading material, you can take turns with your child where you each read a section.

Encourage your child to create a vision about the scenes you are reading together using their senses. Then ask them to describe how they imagine the storyline.

You may also try using interference modeling when reading together, as these frequently appear on STAR tests as well.

For example, if the text describes a person behaving a certain way, you may ask the child what they think the reason behind that behavior might be.

These, and similar reading lessons, are very stimulating for your child's brain and will help them recognize particular patterns in texts.

Step 3. Make Reading More Interesting

Children at this age won't always understand how to focus their attention on reading. This often affects their ability to read with comprehension just because they can't remember what they have read, even if they did this a few minutes ago.

Playing interactive games while reading can ensure that this mental disconnect doesn't occur. Sometimes, your child cannot form a connection between what they read and real life. Whether your child does this is not, they need to take the time to visualize the connected scenes and compare them to their own experiences.

You can help your child build stronger focus retention by making the reading process more interesting.

For example, you can set up a marking system for your child to use in different situations they may come across while reading. This will make them interact with the text more, which will make it easier for them to pay attention so they can remember what they have read.

You can check if they did so by asking them to retell what happened from time to time. You can also enquire about your child’s thoughts about the storyline and whether it made them curious about something.

Step 4. Complete a Few Practice Tests

Lastly, it's recommended to have your child complete a few practice tests to see how they will fare on the STAR test.

Here is a short sample test you can get your child to do:

Example Question

1. I was beginning to understand the story.

Find a substitute for the word ‘beginning’.

a) Forming
b) Starting
c) Knowing

Example Question

2. The bird was blue-gray and had big eyes. This shows how the bird ____.

a) Smelled
b) Sounded
c) Looked

Example Question

3. Peter felt he wasn't ready to read in front of his class. Find a substitute for the word ‘felt’.

a) Touched
b) Thought
c) Told

Step 5. Try Online Reading Games

These are just some of the ways to improve your child's reading skills at home.

There are many other options and strategies, such as interactive online reading programs that use animation to retain attention and help your child progress with their reading.

While online games can often be seen as disruptive, there are plenty of them that provide educational exercises while motivating your child to read short texts.

Step 6. Make Learning Fun

Getting your child to improve their reading proficiency takes some time and effort. However, by letting them have fun, everything will be much easier.

This method can help even underperforming students stay committed and perform better on their next STAR Reading test by reaching the appropriate grade level testing goals.

A Guide to the STAR Reading Test for 3rd and 4th Grade
A Guide to the STAR Reading Test for 3rd and 4th Grade

Additional Tips for Preparing Your Child

Needless to say, your child will perform best on the assessment in the same way they perform best in school – by having plenty of rest and appropriate nutrition and attending school regularly.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep before the day of the test. They may feel anxious about the assessment, but you can ease their worries by letting them know they will do well on the test.

Acknowledge that testing can be challenging, but explain that doing their best is what counts.

Provide Extra Support on the Day

Make sure the child gets up on time on the day of the assessment to avoid rushing, as this can disturb their focus.

Have your child eat a nutritious breakfast, and avoid giving them sugary food because this can make them drowsy. You may even lay out some comfortable clothes for them to wear and put their favorite snack into their lunchbox so they feel supported.

If your child wears glasses, a hearing aid or any other assistive device, make sure to remind them to always wear it in school.

Try to raise the child's confidence levels as much as possible before sending them off to school.

Don't schedule doctor or dentist appointments on the day of the testing, even after school is over, to avoid adding additional anxiety.

Talk to Them Once It’s Over

When your child comes home from school after testing, talk to them about how they did on the test. Again, affirm that it's always effort that counts, and whatever the results, they did great.

Ask the child what they found the most challenging about the test, or what they learned. The teacher will share the test results with you and explain how your child did compared to their peers and what direction you can take to improve your child's reading ability.

You will need to discuss the results with the child as well. Third and 4th graders do not yet comprehend the full purpose of the testing, so make sure to explain to your child what the results mean in terms they can understand.

Don't forget to point out the areas in which they have excelled, then proceed onto the ones that can be improved.

Give the child two to three concrete examples on how to overcome the challenging bits. Your child's teacher can also help them understand what they need to work on before the next testing period.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Star Reading Test uses a score scaling system, in which students can score points for each correct answer on the test.

The scoring system also takes into consideration the overall difficulty of the question, which increases with each grade. The score range goes from 0 to 1400 and is expected to increase as the child's education progresses.

Apart from their overall score, the percentile they reach among their peers is another good indicator of a student's performance on the test.

The percentile is calculated by comparing the child's results with the scores of all the other children in the same grade.

The minimum STAR Reading Scale score at the beginning of the school year for 3rd and 4th grades is 219 and 299, respectively.

If a child scores above these numbers, they have appropriate reading skills for their age. The numbers should increase with each semester, reaching 298 by the end of the 3rd grade and 391 by the end of the 4th.

In each year, the child should score in the 84th to 85th percentile compared to their peers.

The test is used to screen students' reading skills and determine their level of proficiency. It helps teachers assess whether students have a sufficient understanding of state standards and can pass the state exams.

This allows teachers to tailor the appropriate instructional levels to the skills that students are ready to learn.

If a child scores below or above the accepted limit, their programs will be modified – so they can develop their skills according to their current aptitude.

According to an analysis of a large, representative sample across the country, STAR Reading tests are a highly accurate and valid representation of student reading levels.

The consistency of the test results is very high overall, reaching up to 94% in 3rd and 93% in the 4th grade. This is much higher than the reported reliability of many other educational achievement tests performed across the US.

You can employ many strategies to help your child improve their reading skills. Playing word-based board games and using Play-Doh or other toys to get your child to read is not only fun but very useful.

When you are shopping, you can also ask your child for help to read items from a grocery list and point out phonetic words.

Having them read books aloud and discussing the storyline can help develop their comprehensive reading skills. Giving them rewards for pointing out whenever something interesting happens in the story promotes focus retention.

Final Thoughts

There is no other investment that pays dividends like supporting your child through their education. Reading is such an elemental skill that your child's aptitude in it can determine their path in life.

It's needed in many different subjects and will help your child become a well-adjusted adult.

The STAR Reading test for 3rd and 4th graders is a reliable assessment method that can help you and your child prepare for a higher level of learning.