By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – The start of the 2020-2021 school year is approaching rapidly. Some school districts have a plan in place for re-opening while others are still finalizing the details. In an effort to help educators and students alike, the state of Texas and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) took action concerning one facet of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test.
On Monday, July 27, it was announced the grade promotion requirement related to the STAAR test for students in grades 5 and 8 has been waived for the upcoming school year. According to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, 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 traditional A-F rating system will remain in place, albeit with certain adjustments due to COVID-19.
In a media release posted to the governor’s website it was stated, “Typically, students enrolled in grades 5 and 8 are 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 when taken during the spring. With this waiver, 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.”
Gov. Abbott added, “As always, our goal is to provide a high quality education for every Texas student. 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.”
TEA Commissioner Mike Morath stated, “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. 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.”
Closer to home, Crockett ISD Superintendent John Emerich was asked for his thoughts on the matter.
“I think it is probably the fair thing to do for those kids. We had already received guidance that this might be the case, so we looked at what those kids did as a whole throughout the year up until the time we went out and did they participate in the on-line learning. We based our decisions on how the kids were doing. This just makes it official. I think it is a fair thing, for sure,” the CISD Superintendent said.
Grapeland ISD Superintendent Don Jackson said while it was a step in the right direction, “Gov. Abbott and the TEA hit a single when they should have hit a home run. The home run would have been to cancel the STAAR test for the 2020-2021 school year.”
“But,” he continued, “We have to play the cards we have been dealt and do our best to get our students in a position to be successful.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.