San Antonio lawmaker, 68 bipartisan Texas House members seek cancellation of STAAR exam

Diego Bernal sent letter to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath

SAN ANTONIO – A member of the Texas House of Representatives from San Antonio is urging the Texas Education Agency to cancel the administering of the STAAR exam for the 2020- 2021 school year, citing COVID-19 concerns.

Rep. Diego Bernal, a Democrat who represents District 123, sent a letter to TEA requesting that the agency seek the waivers necessary from the United States Department of Education for the cancellation. The letter has been signed by 68 Democratic and Republican members of the Texas House.

In the letter, Bernal said the test should be used at most “as a diagnostic tool to determine where students are academically as opposed to an assessment instrument to determine district and campus sanctions under the current A-F accountability system.”

Bernal, a former San Antonio City Councilman, also said in the letter that the pandemic has created difficulties for educators, students and families and the last thing they should be worried about is a standardized test.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced in July that the grade promotion requirement related to the STAAR test for students in grades 5 and 8 has been waived for the upcoming school year.

But Bernal said instead of having students take the exam, the TEA “should be focused on providing high-quality public education with an emphasis on ensuring the health and safety of students and educators. While data from the STAAR exam may be a good indicator of where our students are currently, the data should be used in a manner to chart a path forward as opposed to being used to sanction our districts and campuses.”

Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina applauded the letter signed by lawmakers and called on Morath to cancel the exam.

“TSTA started calling for a suspension of STAAR testing in June because standardized testing should be the last priority for students, educators and policymakers during the middle of a deadly pandemic, which now is getting worse,” Molina said in a statement.

You can read the letter Bernal sent to TEA below:

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of since the website's launch in October 2000.