Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 16 that the state is waiving the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements.
Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre said Abbott did the right thing in waiving the STAAR testing requirements.
“It was unrealistic and unreasonable to expect that our students would be prepared to take a test of that nature this year,” Dupre said. “Even if things were to recover in the next four to six weeks or so, [students are] still dealing with stress and anxiety that they're going to be dealing with for a while. These kinds of issues really exacerbate student anxieties and fears.”
FBISD has canceled classes for at least the next two weeks, through March 27. Dupre said in the next seven to 10 days the district will re-evaluate that decision, consider extending closures and explore what online learning would look like in the event that occurs.
FBISD board of trustees member Kristin Tassin raised concerns over the STAAR test at an emergency board meeting held March 13.
“STAAR testing is supposed to start in the first part of April for some of our students,” Tassin said. “If we're canceling school for the next two weeks, then they're obviously not getting instruction, and it's going to impact not just preparation for these students, but also planning as we try to proctor and put on something as large as the state testing system.”
Dupre said he already is not a fan of the A-F accountability system, a state-issued rating system for districts and campuses based partly on STAAR test results, and that FBISD will not miss the data provided by the STAAR test.
“We see that as just one test that we give one day of the year,” Dupre said. “We use several other resources to measure the progress of our students, and so we don't really use [the STAAR test] as a benchmark the way some other districts might.”
In a news release, Abbott said the move to waive testing requirements emphasizes the state’s focus on public health.
“Your health and safety are top priorities, and the state of Texas will give school districts the flexibility to protect and ensure the health of students, faculty and their families,” Abbott said in the release. “We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19.”
Abbott is also requesting the U.S. Department of Education waive its testing requirements for the 2019-20 school year, according to a news release by the governor’s office.