HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott announced that students in grades 5 and 8 will not have to pass the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test in order to move up to the next grade due to the adjustments being made during the coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott said the grade promotion requirement that's tied to the test will be waived for the upcoming school year.
"As always, our goal is to provide a high-quality education for every Texas student," Abbott said. "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."
Education officials said there would be no benefit to forcing children to repeat a grade based on a single test score.
"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," Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said. "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."
Usually, students in fifth through eighth grade who do not pass the STAAR test in the spring have to re-take the test later in the school year and sometimes again in the summer in order to move on to the next grade. With the waiver in place, the test will only be administered one time during the 2020-21 school year and it will be in May, coinciding with the administration of the STAAR tests in other grades.
School systems will keep the traditional A-F grading system, but adjustments will be made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here's what some state leaders said about the announcement:
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: "Parents rightfully expect our schools to continue to meet a high bar and it is critically important that teachers and parents know how each child is progressing and whether or not they need additional help. A-F ratings will provide us with important information about school performance and, while we won’t use the STAAR test to determine promotions, it will continue to provide us with assessment data that we need. We face some unprecedented challenges in the upcoming year, but we must continue to keep our schools accountable and on track."
House Speaker Dennis Bonnen: "During a time of great uncertainty, one thing is indisputable — we cannot allow an entire generation of Texas students to be disadvantaged by the unprecedented disruptions this pandemic has caused in our education system. Not only will this approach do a great deal to reduce the ‘high-stakes’ burden of testing in a school year already complicated by this pandemic, it will hold schools accountable for providing a high-quality education while equipping teachers and parents with the information they need to make certain students are learning and remain on the path to educational success."
Sen. Larry Taylor: "During these unprecedented times, with the State’s support, our schools should do everything they can to provide a quality education for our students. I also agree with Governor Abbott that our students should not be penalized by circumstances beyond their control while recognizing the assessment itself provides important insight to grade-level achievement in a new learning environment."
Chairman of the House Public Education Committee, Dan Huberty: "With this waiver, we are ensuring that the success of Texas students remains the focus of this school year. These unprecedented times have brought much upheaval to these students’ lives and this is one thing we can do at the State level to help ease them back into their educational routines while still ensuring the institutions of education remain accountable."