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Texas waives grade promotion requirements for 2020-2021 STAAR Testing

State says there will only be one administration of the STAAR for grades 5 and 8 in 2020-2021 school year for reading and mathematics

A social distancing reminder sits on the floor of an empty hallway at Stephens Elementary School in Rowlett, Texas, Wednesday, July 22, 2020.(AP Photo/LM Otero)
A social distancing reminder sits on the floor of an empty hallway at Stephens Elementary School in Rowlett, Texas, Wednesday, July 22, 2020.(AP Photo/LM Otero) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday that the grade promotion requirement related to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test for students in grades 5 and 8 has been waived for the upcoming school year.

In a statement, the governor’s office said that, typically, school systems must take into account a student’s score on the STAAR test to determine whether the student can be promoted to the next grade level. The office stated that traditional A-F rating system will remain in place with certain adjustments due to COVID-19.

“As always, our goal is to provide a high quality education for every Texas student,” Abbott said in a statement. “This will be a uniquely challenging school year, therefore, this year is about providing students every opportunity to overcome the disruptions caused by COVID-19. By waiving these promotion requirements, we are providing greater flexibility for students and teachers, while at the same time ensuring that Texas students continue to receive a great education — which we will continue to measure with high-quality assessments.”

The governor’s office stated that students enrolled in grades 5 and 8 are usually required to re-take a STAAR test late in the school year, and sometimes again in the summer if they do not meet grade-level requirements when taken during the spring.

Under Abbott’s waiver, the governor’s office says there will only be one administration of the STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics and reading assessments for the 2020–21 school year. The test will be administered in May to coincide with the administration of other STAAR grades 3-8 assessments.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement that parents of children enrolled in Texas public schools need to know how their children are developing, which is why the state opted for a standardized test with no grade-level promotion consequences.

“Parents deserve to know how well their children have learned grade-level knowledge and skills in reading and math, especially in a time when education has been substantially disrupted,” Morath said in a statement. “And educators use this valuable information to make adjustments to support students the following year. But there is no benefit to our children by requiring them to repeat a year based on a single test score given the disruptions of COVID, so we are waiving the grade promotion requirements from STAAR this year for our students.”

Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina released the following statement in response to Abbott’s waiver:

“We are glad the governor suspended the promotion requirements for fifth and eighth graders that are tied to STAAR scores for the upcoming school year, but he didn’t go far enough. STAAR testing will still be wasteful and stressful at a time when teachers, students and their parents are stressed out enough over a deadly pandemic. The governor needs to also suspend the A-F school accountability system and the T-TESS teacher appraisal system for the coming school year. They also are heavily tied to STAAR scores. And while he is at it, he should just suspend STAAR testing for 2020-21, period. It is a distraction that students and teachers don’t need while they learn a new education delivery system, and it is an expense that taxpayers can ill-afford.”

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