Abbott waives grade-promotion requirements for STAAR

Earlier this week Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the STAAR will go on. However, the grade-promotion requirement for 5th and 8th grades will be waived for the upcoming school year. Under normal circumstances, schools must factor in a student’s test scores on the STAAR to determine whether the student can move on to the next grade. As of now there has been no announcement on a waiver for high school students needing to take the STAAR to graduate.

“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,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “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.” 

STAAR is designed to rank schools and students on content learned during the regular school year. Given that there is nothing regular about the 2020-2021 school year, many parents educators, and lawmakers are calling on the state to reconsider its decision and the STAAR’s value as a diagnostic tool. State Rep. Gina Hinojosa spoke out saying, “It doesn’t make sense to me right now that the state of Texas would increase stress on kids and families at a time when there are unprecedented stresses on kids and families. What we need to do is do everything we can to help teachers and districts facilitate engagement of students in this novel world in which they have to learn.”

TEA and the Governor are being even less flexible with school districts as the A-F rating system will still be in effect for next year despite the uncertainty schools are facing and the raging coronavirus epidemic. Morath promises adjustments, such as larger windows for test administration, will be made but insists that schools must be kept accountable.