Measuring Academic Impact Of Pandemic On Texas Students
The Texas Education Agency announced today that A-F ratings would be paused for 2020-21 school year due to the ongoing disruptions associated with COVID-19. The STAAR test will proceed for the 2020-21 school year in order to provide critically important information about individual student learning that teachers and parents can use to help students grow. For those schools that incorporate STAAR results into teacher evaluations, TEA is providing flexibility to allow them to remove that component this school year.
Ensuring that STAAR is made available has been recognized as vital by education leaders around the state. STAAR results will allow schools, teachers, and parents to see how individual students are performing while also giving education leaders and policymakers across Texas a comprehensive picture of what are likely to be sweeping impacts of the pandemic on student learning, helping policymakers craft solutions for the years ahead. However, the STAAR will not be used for accountability purposes this school year.
Parents React To News Of STAAR Testing
Many parents and teachers were hoping the TEA would suspend STAAR testing for this school year due to all of the other responsibilities and challenges teachers are facing. Karen Marie commented the following on the TEA Facebook post, “The faculty and students have been under a tremendous amount of stress this year. Then to add in the amount of days that students are missing due to COVID or exposure due to COVID it’s unfair to both the faculty and students to have to add in the additional stress of the STAAR test. Please reconsider TEA. Just getting through 2020-2021 has been enough for everyone.”
Dovie Biggerstaff Carrell commented, “So disappointed in the TEA right now. Teachers, administrators, parents, and legislators have begged you to suspend the STAAR for this year. You all are hell-bent on having your way and ignoring the pleas of those in the trenches closest to the situation. You try to convince everyone that that the STAAR needs to be administered because schools need the data. We could care less about data right now! These children and their families are so much more than data points but the TEA will never see them as anything else.”
Something the TEA does not address in their release is how students that are virtual learners will take the STAAR test. If parents or children are considered high risk and have kept their students home, will they be required to take the STAAR in person alongside their in person classmates?
“The last nine months have been some of the most disruptive of our lives. The challenges have been especially pronounced for our parents, teachers, and students. We continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff in our schools this year, while working to ensure students grow academically,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.
“The issuance of A-F ratings for schools has proven to be a valuable tool to support continuous improvement for our students, allowing educators, parents, and the general public to better identify and expand efforts that are working for kids. But the pandemic has disrupted school operations in fundamental ways that have often been outside the control of our school leaders, making it far more difficult to use these ratings as a tool to support student academic growth. As a result, we will not issue A-F ratings this school year,” added Morath.
School systems are required to make STAAR available to every eligible student. The test will be administered on school campuses across the state or at other secure alternative testing sites. The test is an assessment of the grade level expectations of Texas students, with questions designed by subject matter experts and committees of Texas teachers to measure how well students have mastered knowledge and skills in various grades and subjects. STAAR will continue to be administered only in secure environments to ensure the results remain valid and reliable.