ISSUE

STAAR is a set of high-stakes, multiple-choice tests that Texas schools are required to administer to students in grades 3-12. The pandemic prevented administration of the tests in spring 2020, but Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath has declared opposition to waiving the STAAR testing scheduled for spring 2021.

Commissioner Morath has already agreed that the 2021 STAAR will not count for controlling student grade progression or for assigning A-F school and district ratings, as in normal years. But he still wants to require schools to tell students they must attend the hours-long tests in person this spring.

Educators want these tests cancelled, saying that the shift in focus to testing will undermine their work on mitigating the damage that a year of pandemic disruption has caused.

Any benefit from state-mandated testing comes from comparisons between normal years, schools, and districts–a purpose for which STAAR tests this spring will be useless. Group tests now will also act as virus spreaders.

WHO SHOULD ACT

Everyone in Texas is affected by education. Parents and educators will be especially impacted, but there is also a case to be made from a taxpayer point of view.

The decision about this spring’s test will be made by Commissioner Morath, who was appointed by Governor Abbott. While there will not be time for formal legislative action, messages to your legislators might have indirect influence.

WHO TO CONTACT

  • Commissioner Mike Morath
    commissioner@tea.texas.gov
    512-463-8985
    1701 N. Congress, Austin TX 78701

WHAT TO SAY

Pick or adapt the one closest to your situation.

If you’re a parent or relative of a student:

“Please cancel this spring’s STAAR tests. My child’s teacher has been doing heroic work online to keep her class interested, but this will be lost if they have to switch back to practicing multiple-choice tests. I am also concerned that sitting for hours with other students for the tests may lead to her bringing the virus home.”

If you’re a teacher:

“Please cancel this year’s STAAR tests. The disruption they will cause will undermine my already-challenging work in keeping my students interested in learning under current circumstances. This year, their STAAR results would be more a measure of their home situation than their learning.”

If you’re a taxpayer:

“Doing STAAR tests in the middle of a pandemic is a waste of money that will aggravate an already-difficult situation and damage the cause of school accountability because the results will not be comparable between districts or years.”

FOR MORE

While the requests to cancel the 2021 tests is based on the pandemic, there are also continuing efforts to substantially revise Texas school-accountability laws to make them more flexible and oriented to their specific communities. Texas Public Accountability Consortium (TPAC).

Also see: Texas Tribune, Texas will require students to take the STAAR test in person