Sixty-eight Texas state representatives from both sides of the political aisle have signed a letter asking State Commissioner of Education Mike Morath to seek necessary federal waivers to allow the Texas Education Agency to cancel the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, test in the 2020-21 school year. The office of Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, sent the letter.

“The COVID slide, an academic deficit that the agency has widely recognized, has resulted in students, across the state, being behind grade-level in nearly every subject,” the letter states. “Instead of proceeding with the administration of the STAAR as planned, the agency, along with our districts and campuses, should be focused on providing high-quality public education with an emphasis on ensuring the health and safety of students and educators.”

In the letter, representatives from across the state request the STAAR test be used only as a diagnostic tool to see where students stand academically—if it is administered at all.

Among the letter's signers was Rep. Ed Thompson, R-Pearland, who said in an email he spoke with Morath about the issue over the summer.

"At that time, I wrote a letter to Texas Education Agency Commission Morath in which I respectfully requested that he roll back the TEA's decision to administer the 2020-21 STAAR test. For several reasons, Commissioner Morath declined to do so," Thompson said in an email. "Representative Bernal—along with sixty-six of my colleagues in the House—are still deeply concerned about requiring students to take these exams."

During the 2018-19 school year, the STAAR test measured student achievement; school progress; and closing the gaps, which is a measure of performance across different groups of students, including race, income level and special education status. All districts were given a letter grade from A-F. The STAAR test was not administered in the 2019-20 school year due to COVID-19.