STAAR Tests to Continue, But Grades Won't Count Against Schools, TEA Says

STAAR tests will be administered at school campuses or 'secure alternative testing sites,' TEA says

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The annual State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, also known as STAAR tests, will return for the 2020-2021 school year but grades will not count against schools, The Texas Education Agency announced Thursday afternoon.

The TEA says STAAR tests will "provide critically important information about individual student learning that teachers and parents can use to help students grow," but school A-F ratings will be paused for the 2020-21 school year.

“The last nine months have been some of the most disruptive of our lives. The challenges have been especially pronounced for our parents, teachers, and students. We continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff in our schools this year, while working to ensure students grow academically,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

The decision mirrors recent requests by key superintendents from around Texas including superintendents in Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs who wrote a letter to Education Commissioner Mike Morath, asking that the state give the tests, but not count the grades.

The annual assessments will give schools, teachers and parents key insight into how students have performed academically during the coronavirus pandemic and help policymakers craft solutions for the years ahead, the TEA said in a news release.

School leaders are asking the state to issue the STAAR test despite the pandemic. NBC 5 education reporter Wayne Carter reports superintendents say they desperately need the test scores to know where students are academically this year more than ever.

“The issuance of A-F ratings for schools has proven to be a valuable tool to support continuous improvement for our students, allowing educators, parents, and the general public to better identify and expand efforts that are
working for kids. But the pandemic has disrupted school operations in fundamental ways that have often been outside the control of our school leaders, making it far more difficult to use these ratings as a tool to support student academic growth. As a result, we will not issue A-F ratings this school year,” Morath said in a press release.

The TEA's announcement added that STAAR tests will be administrated on school campuses across the state or at secure alternative testing sites "to ensure the results remain valid and reliable."

"All data is relative, how did we do compared to the state? compared to other urban districts? compared to the suburbs? and if we don't take the test, two three years down the road we're going to have huge gaps," said Michael Hinojosa, Superintendent, Dallas ISD to NBC 5, after the announcement was made. "A lot of the superintendents say don't give a  test but i'm glad they listened on this piece of it" 

Teachers and education advocacy groups across Texas had previously asked the state to reconsider administering the STAAR test, with State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, (D-Austin), filing a petition against the standardized testing.

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