With STAAR waivers in place, Spring ISD looks to remote learning opportunities amid limited technology access

Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 16 that he had waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements for the 2019-20 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 16 that he had waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements for the 2019-20 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 16 that he had waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements for the 2019-20 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Following a March 16 announcement that Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements for the 2019-20 school year, Spring ISD officials have shifted their focus to expanding remote learning opportunities for students as schools remain closed at least through April 10.

With nearly 30 coronavirus cases confirmed in the Greater Houston area as of March 16, many school districts, including Spring ISD, have closed in hopes of slowing the virus's spread and encouraging social distancing and self-quarantining. As the future of the spring semester remains unclear for many of these school districts, in addition to waiving STAAR testing requirements, Abbott said he is requesting that the department of education waive federal testing requirements for the 2019-20 school year.

“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,” he said in a statement. “We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19.”

According to SISD officials, while student academic growth remains a priority for SISD, the waiver allows the district to begin thinking more creatively about how to bring learning to students outside of the classroom.

"We appreciate at respect Gov. Abbott's announcement that STAAR testing requirements will be waived for the 2019-20 school year," Chief Communications Officer Tiffany Dunne-Oldfield said in a statement. "His message about empowering schools to focus on the health of students, teachers and staff is exactly what was needed right now. There is so much uncertainty about what each day will bring, it’s helpful to have a decision on the state’s STAAR annual testing requirement so early on in what looks to be an unprecedented length of time for Texas schools to be closed. Knowing what’s happening with this year’s STAAR testing will allow us to be more creative in rethinking how learning opportunities and family supports can and should be provided to students during the school closure period."


Dunne-Oldfield added that SISD plans to get reading resources and materials out to families with easy-to-understand tips and guidelines over the next few weeks, followed by a more comprehensive expansion of remote learning opportunities set to launch April 1. However, Dunne-Oldfield said barriers to technology access will be an issue for many SISD families.

"Many of our students do not have computers at home and/or have limited Internet," she said in a statement. "While we are pleased to see many area internet providers offering free, unlimited service during this challenging time, some of our students and families will still face internet-access limitations despite these offers. Those are the kinds of challenges we are facing as we plan to provide remote learning opportunities for our students."


While many local school districts will likely face similar challenges, Abbott said he is working closely with the Texas Education Agency to ensure schools continue to deliver instruction to students while schools are closed due to coronavirus, which includes tailored instruction for students with special needs. The TEA likewise released a statement regarding Abbott's March 16 decision.

The statement reads:

"In normal times, STAAR serves as an invaluable tool to accurately and reliably diagnose how well students have learned to read, write and do math. This information is used by parents to support the academic growth of their children, and by educators to adjust how they approach teaching to maximize student learning.

This year, though, it has become apparent that schools will be unable to administer STAAR as they would normally. TEA has already waived a host of regulations, allowing schools to quickly pivot to provide instruction and support in ways they never have before. We are thankful for Governor Abbott's willingness to waive the STAAR testing requirement, as it allows schools the maximum flexibility to remain focused on public health while also investing in the capacity to support student learning remotely."

For more information about SISD and its response to coronavirus, click here.
By Hannah Zedaker

Editor, Spring/Klein & Lake Houston/Humble/Kingwood

Hannah joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. In March 2019, she transitioned to editor of the Spring/Klein edition and later became the editor of both the Spring/Klein and Lake Houston/Humble/Kingwood editions in June 2021. Hannah covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Hannah served as associate editor of The Houstonian, interned with Community Impact Newspaper and spent time writing for the Sam Houston State University College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication and The Huntsville Item.



MOST RECENT

Commissioners on Nov. 22 voted to approve a density change to preliminary plans for The Preserve, a neighborhood that city documents said could include 565 single-family homes at the northeast corner of Teel and Panther Creek Parkways. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Neighborhood near PGA Frisco could see larger lots; ERCOT says Texas power grid ready for expected winter demand and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 24.

A health expert with Baylor College of Medicine provides advice to stay safe and healthy while celebrating Thanksgiving with family. (Karolina Grabowska/Pexels)
Baylor College of Medicine: Tips for staying safe and healthy this Thanksgiving as the pandemic continues

Check out some helpful advice from a medical expert on how to stay safe and healthy during Thanksgiving.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sits beside Samsung CEO Dr. Kinam Kim as he announces the company is brining a $17 billion facility to Taylor. (Screnshot via KXAN)
Samsung makes it official: Announcement from Governor's Mansion confirms $17B facility coming to Taylor

Nearly a year after Williamson County officials began pitching Samsung to bring a megafacility to the area, the electronics giant has made it official.

Bill Curci is a chief operating partner for Shuck Me, a seafood restaurant in Fort Worth. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Fort Worth restaurant Shuck Me is fishing- and family-centric; a guide to Houston's 2021 Thanksgiving Day Parade and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 23.

PTSD Foundation of America seeks to reduce veteran suicides

An average of 17.2 veterans died by suicide daily in 2019—a 36% increase from 2001, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in September.

Hebrews Coffeehouse specializes in coffee flights, an assortment of four specialty coffees with flavors changed every two weeks. (Courtesy Hebrews Coffeehouse)
From coffee trailer to storefront: Meet the owners of Hebrews Coffeehouse on FM 1488

​​​​​​​“Once we had a coffeehouse and people were coming into that house-type environment and then you start to see relationships flourish, that’s what makes our hearts beat,” Geoff said. “Coffee was a catalyst for that.”

Texas Medical Center coronavirus update: ICU numbers drop almost 20%; new hospitalizations plateau

Heading into Thanksgiving, here is the status of COVID-19 in Texas Medical Center hospitals.

Read below to find out where to donate items or money to local organizations. (Photo courtesy Canva)
Where to donate for Thanksgiving this year in Houston

For those looking to give items or monetary donations for Thanksgiving this year, check out these organizations that help feed Houstonians on Thanksgiving.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during Winter Storm Uri in February. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power grid ready for expected winter demand

The state's electric grid manager also said extreme weather could once again result in outages.

Cable television jewelry channel Shop LC will relocate its headquarters to Cedar Park with a $50 million capital investment. (Courtesy city of Cedar Park)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Shopping network moving headquarters to Cedar Park; affordable housing projects come online in McKinney and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 22.

Bluewater Seafood will celebrate its 25th anniversary with live music and food and drink specials Dec. 10-11. (Courtesy Bluewater Seafood)
Bluewater Seafood celebrating 25th anniversary in December

The restaurant will celebrate at all three of its Houston-area locations.