Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)

Education-focused organizations are calling for the Texas Education Agency to reconsider its decision to resume the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR tests, in the 2020-21 school year.

As previously reported by
Community Impact Newspaper, the push back comes in response to a June 30 State Board of Education meeting, in which Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced STAAR testing requirements would be reinstated in the coming school year after being waived in the 2020 spring semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have all these things in place for a reason," Morath said. "There's very solid evidence [standardized tests] help children, especially students from low-income backgrounds. So we don't want to throw that up and just give up on the objectives to have students master the knowledge and skills they need to master this year."

Despite possible changes to the tests, such as longer testing windows of 30 days and different ways to calculate A-F ratings, organization leaders like Theresa Trevino, vice president of Texans Advocating for Meaningful Assessment, say schools should hold off another year.






“This pandemic really shined light on how disparate our districts were and are,” Trevino said. “We believe that these different holes ... are going to show up again, peppered throughout our state."

Morath pointed out during the June 30 presentation that the switch from in-person education to online remote learning had a profound negative effect on students from low-income backgrounds, also referred to as the “COVID[-19] slide.”



"On or about the time of COVID[-19] closures in the state of Texas and country-wide, you saw an immediate split in how students were making academic progress," he said. "Students from low-income ZIP codes were at a precipitous decline in academic progress that was immediate. They were making 50% less progress in mathematics than they normally do on a week-to-week basis."

The four- to five-hour long exam is given to all Texas public school students in grades 3-12 and tests for reading, writing, math, science and social studies. In addition to being a requirement for state funding of public schools, the tests can also determine if a student is deemed sufficiently prepared for moving on to the next grade level or receiving their high school diploma.

Although standardized tests may be instrumental in gauging a students’ academic performance, as schools are also navigating in-person and online learning methods, Trevino said keeping high stakes such as grade advancement, graduation requirements or state accountability rankings might add additional pressures to students, educators and schools.

“Let's see what happens when you remove the stakes,” Trevino said. “I would venture to guess [that] you're going to see a lot of learning, because [students] are going to have that many more weeks of curriculum that's presented to them and not test strategies.”

Elected officials such as State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D—Austin, and other organizations such as the Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers have likewise voiced their opposition to the decision.

“Standardized testing should be the last priority for students, educators and policymakers,” TSTA President Noel Candelaria said. “There are other, much more crucial priorities for the state, beginning with a plan for safe schools, a plan for returning students, teachers and employees safely to classrooms, but only after the pandemic has begun to subside, not while COVID[-19] cases are still increasing.”

Kelly Schafler contributed to this report.



MOST RECENT

Dozens of clinics throughout the county offer COVID-19 testing services. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19 testing locations remain open in Montgomery County and more local news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

Heading into Thanksgiving, Texas Medical Center continues to report uptick in hospitalizations

The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Texas Medical Center facilities has increased by more than 50% over two weeks.

The Harris County Justice Administration Department is working to release final reports and launch pilot programs in early 2021. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County Justice Administration Department makes headway on countywide criminal justice studies

The department is working to release the final versions of several studies and launch pilot programs with local law enforcement groups in early 2021.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.

Harris County Precinct 4 and the Champions Municipal Utility District celebrated the completion of Champions Drive in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 19—just weeks before the 2020 U.S. Women's Open Golf Tournament is scheduled to take place in the area. (Courtesy Harris County Precinct 4)
Harris County Precinct 4, Champions MUD celebrate completion of Champions Drive ahead of 2020 U.S. Women's Open Golf Tournament

In anticipation of increased traffic on the roadway for the 75th annual event, Harris County Precinct 4 and the Champions Municipal Utility District began construction in September 2018 on a $13.3 million joint project to upgrade Champions Drive from a two-lane asphalt road to a two-lane concrete paved section with improved drainage between FM 1960 and Cypress Creek.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise among teachers and students, Spring, Klein and Cy-Fair ISDs have reported that an 32,783 more students are learning in person during the second grading period than were on campus at the start of the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
More than 32,700 students in Spring, Klein and Cy-Fair ISDs switch to on-campus learning for second grading period

Spring, Klein and Cy-Fair ISDs have reported that an 32,783 more students are learning in person during the second grading period than were on campus at the start of the school year.

Despite losing his position on the Klein ISD board of trustees by 26 votes in the Nov. 3 general election, incumbent Doug James has been appointed to fill a Position 2 vacancy after the winning challenger, Alvin Vaughn, declined his position as a trustee. (Courtesy Doug James)
Klein ISD appoints incumbent Doug James to fill vacant Position 2 after winning challenger declines candidacy

"I want to thank the Klein community for voting for me," Vaughn said in a statement. "Winning the election is more than I could have hoped for, but upon further investigation as to the time requirements of this position and in consultation with my family, I have decided to decline this position."

The ice cream parlor offers more than 50 flavors of ice cream; yogurt; sherbet; ice; and fat-free, no-sugar-added ice cream available by the quart, pint, scoop or cone. (Courtesy Handel's Homemade Ice Cream)
Handel's Homemade Ice Cream now open on Spring Cypress Road

The ice cream parlor offers more than 50 flavors of ice cream; yogurt; sherbet; ice; and fat-free, no-sugar-added ice cream available by the quart, pint, scoop or cone.

Laura Colangelo
Q&A: Laura Colangelo discusses challenges facing private schools during pandemic

Colangelo said private schools have adapted to remote learning and other obstacles in 2020 despite less revenue and a 9% decline in enrollment statewide.

Shake Shack opened its new standalone location at The Woodlands Mall in November. (Courtesy Christine Han)
Shake Shack opens in The Woodlands Mall and more Houston-area updates

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.

The Skeeters will be the first-ever independent baseball league team to become an MLB team's Triple-A affiliate. (Courtesy Sugar Land Skeeters)
Sugar Land Skeeters selected as Triple-A affiliate for Houston Astros

In joining the Houston Astros organization, the Sugar Land Skeeters will be the first-ever independent baseball league team to become an MLB team's Triple-A affiliate.