AUSTIN, Texas – A San Antonio state lawmaker is once again taking aim at a state-mandated test that assesses school district and campus performance.
Sen. Jose Menendez on Wednesday sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath urging them to cancel the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for the current academic year.
Menendez, a Democrat who represents District 26, said with the problems that the omicron surge are causing in schools across Texas for teachers and students, “the last thing our education system needs right now is to take a high-stakes test ... with scores that could potentially harm both the student and the school. Given the dire circumstances currently facing our education system, I am requesting you take all necessary action to cancel the administration of the STAAR test for the current academic year,” Menendez said in the letter.
The lawmaker has long been a critic of the test, even before the pandemic. In March 2019, he wrote a letter to Morath, saying that he was going to introduce legislation that would put a moratorium of the test for two years, citing research that indicated the test measures achievement two to three years on above grade level, on average.
Menendez reiterated his criticism in Wednesday’s letter.
“The STAAR test has long been proven to be an unnecessary and poorly designed means of assessment. Studies repeatedly show that it is out of sync with the student learning standards, which only sets them up for failure and places more stress on students and teachers. As unfair as the test is in normal times, it is beyond understanding how this test can be seen as fair assessment while our students, teachers and schools are experiencing the COVID-19 surge. Our office conducted a survey last year that received over 13,000 responses with 97% of Texans opposing taking the STAAR test in-person. Given this recent COVID-19 surge, administering the STAAR test as it is normally conducted would not only put lives at risk but would also produce inaccurate data that would not take into account the disproportionate challenges all Texans have faced not only the past 3 months but through the entirety pandemic,” he said in the letter.
You can read the letter in its entirety below: