Governor Abbott waives STAAR testing requirements

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Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 8:16 PM CDT
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Today, Governor Greg Abbott announced that he is waving the STAAR testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.

“Assessment is a big part of our educational program here at Tyler ISD,” said Marty Crawford, the Tyler ISD superintendent. “While we appreciate Governor Abbott and Commissioner Mike Morath making this decision, we are concerned.”

Crawford said the decision to cancel STAAR testing will change a lot for Texas school districts.

“We use assessment and data to drive what we do for children,”said Crawford. “We’ll have to figure out a way to continue to gauge that until we take the STAAR in 2021.”

Keven Ellis, the chair of the State Board of Education, said the decision to promote a student to the next grade will now be a district and teacher-based decision.

“What the commissioner of education said is that will be a local district determination,” said Ellis. “They will use all varieties of other measures to decide if grade level promotions will happen or not.”

Evaluations will be based on all other work the student does throughout the year.

“The things a teacher evaluates a student on throughout the school year,” said Ellis. “Their tests, daily work, grades.”

Crawford said this may provide some relief for teachers.

“There is a lot of pressure and strain when it comes to high stakes testing,” said Crawford. “So, maybe clearing this out of the way for a brief moment will free them up to really engage in their craft and see teaching as an art instead of a science.”

For high school students, Ellis said graduation will be determined by an individual graduation committee.

Governor Abbott has also requested a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education regarding the national assessment requirements from the “Every Student Succeeds Act”. Ellis said the state is optimistic this will be granted.

From the Office of Gov. Greg Abbott

Governor Greg Abbott today announced that he has waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year. Additionally, Governor Abbott is requesting that the Department of Education (DOE) waive federal testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.

Governor Abbott is working closely with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to ensure that schools continue to deliver instruction to students while students are absent or while schools are closed due to COVID-19. This includes tailoring instruction for students with special needs so that they have access to the same education as other students in the district. Governor Abbott will continue to work with the TEA on developing additional methods to ensure that students are learning and ready to succeed at the next grade-level. These discussions are ongoing and more information will be provided as it develops.

"Your health and safety are top priorities, and the state of Texas will give school districts flexibility to protect and ensure the health of students, faculty, and their families," said Governor Abbott. "We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19."

The move to waive testing requirements reflects the Governor’s emphasis on public health over all other priorities at this time. In normal times, Texas’ assessment system provides educators and parents with reliable information on whether or not their students have mastered grade-level content. The Governor remains committed to ensuring parents, students, and school districts have access to this information in future years.

Superintendents should continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, faculty, and their families. Their leadership is an important part of our statewide efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect public health.