Texans Asking for Meaningful Student Assessment urges state officials to request testing waiver in light of COVID-19 closures

Texans Asking for Meaningful Student Assessment, or TAMSA, is asking that the state request a waiver of testing for the 2020-2021 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texans Asking for Meaningful Student Assessment, or TAMSA, is asking that the state request a waiver of testing for the 2020-2021 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Texans Asking for Meaningful Student Assessment, or TAMSA, is asking that the state request a waiver of testing for the 2020-2021 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

As Texas experiences a surge in coronavirus cases, much is still unknown about the long-term impact of the pandemic on families, students and communities, and as the new educational year approaches, school districts across the state are coping with the many challenges associated with teaching amid the pandemic.

In light of these challenges, Texans Asking for Meaningful Student Assessment, or TAMSA, is calling upon state officials to waive student testing for the 2020-21 school year.

TAMSA is a statewide, nonpartisan organization focused on developing meaningful student assessments in Texas. The grassroots group comprises parents and community members concerned with the emphasis on and the high stakes of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR tests.

The organization is in full support of students, parents and districts during this unprecedented health crisis, according to a June 22 press release.

“We know that teachers are essential to a student’s education and that neither packets nor computers can substitute for them,” TAMSA President Heather Sheffield said in a statement to Community Impact Newspaper. Sheffield also serves as an EISD board trustee.


Eanes ISD, like many other districts, officially shifted to remote learning in March prior to Gov. Greg Abbott closing schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

Shortly thereafter, Abbott waived STAAR testing requirements for the 2019-20 school year.

Texas school districts sprung into action to develop a suitable virtual learning plan for students. However, parents, teachers and school officials throughout the state have expressed concerns related to the success of prolonged online studies.

The extended school closures may have a devastating impact on student achievement, with students potentially returning in August nearly a full year behind, according to a statement made by the Texas Education Agency on May 7.

TAMSA also drew attention to the vast differences in COVID-19 numbers across the state. Consequently, responses on how to conduct school in a safe environment may vary depending on the district. As such, per the release, the organization believes that testing ought to be further waived for the forthcoming school year.

“Until every student has the opportunity to learn in their usual way at school, we believe it is prudent, advisable and supportive of Texas families and schools that the state seeks a waiver of testing for the 2020-21 school year,” Sheffield said.
By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.