By Will Johnson
AUSTIN – Following the pleas and requests of a number of Texas state legislators, Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath announced on Thursday, Dec. 10 “… that A-F ratings would be paused for 2020-21 school year due to the ongoing disruptions associated with COVID-19.”
The TEA Commissioner explained the decision and stated, “The last nine months have been some of the most disruptive of our lives. The challenges have been especially pronounced for our parents, teachers, and students. We continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff in our schools this year, while working to ensure students grow academically.”
Morath emphasized while the STAAR test while not be used for accountability ratings, it would still be administered and used to determine in what areas a student may be strong and what areas he or she may need to focus more attention.
In the Thursday afternoon announcement, Morath said ensuring the STAAR results were made available to education leaders was a vital tool in promoting the academic growth of students in the Lone Star State.
The results will allow schools, teachers, and parents to see how individual students are performing while also giving education leaders and policymakers across Texas a comprehensive picture of what are likely to be sweeping impacts of the pandemic on student learning, helping policymakers craft solutions for the years ahead.
“The issuance of A-F ratings for schools has proven to be a valuable tool to support continuous improvement for our students, allowing educators, parents, and the general public to better identify and expand efforts that are working for kids. But the pandemic has disrupted school operations in fundamental ways that have often been outside the control of our school leaders, making it far more difficult to use these ratings as a tool to support student academic growth. As a result, we will not issue A-F ratings this school year,” added Morath.
Latexo ISD Superintendent Michael Woodard was contacted for his thoughts on the A-F Accountability waiver.
“We are very relieved that the state is waiving the A-F accountability ratings for the 20-21 school year. This has been a wild and crazy year trying to keep our doors open with all the COVID-19 restrictions we have to deal with. Students have missed valuable class time with their teachers that cannot be replaced when not participating with in person instruction. Having the state accountability hanging over our heads is added pressure our students and teachers doesn’t need to be worried about at this time. We still plan to test our students and evaluate where they are at this year, I’m just glad the state is leaving it up to each school district to do what is best for their students,” the LISD superintendent said.
School systems are required to make STAAR available to every eligible student. The test will be administered on school campuses across the state or at other secure alternative testing sites. The test is an assessment of the grade level expectations of Texas students, with questions designed by subject matter experts and committees of Texas teachers to measure how well students have mastered knowledge and skills in various grades and subjects. STAAR will continue to be administered only in secure environments to ensure the results remain valid and reliable.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.