AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today announced that he has waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.
“With regard to so many school closures, it’s just going to be impossible to implement the STAAR test this year,” Abbott said in a Monday press conference from San Antonio’s Emergency Operations Center after a briefing about the novel coronavirus.
“Your health and safety are top priorities, and the state of Texas will give school districts flexibility to protect and ensure the health of students, faculty, and their families,” Gov. Abbott said.
“We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency said the waiver was “the first ever instance of a STAAR cancellation, dating back to the administration of TAAS and TAKS tests.”
In a Monday statement, the agency said it had already waived a series of regulations, “allowing schools to quickly pivot to provide instruction and support in ways they never have before.”
The move “allows schools the maximum flexibility to remain focused on public health while also investing in the capacity to support student learning remotely.”
The Texas State Teachers Association applauded the decision.
“Teachers that I’ve been talking to across the state, that’s been a big concern for their students, especially students who needs the STAAR to be able to move to the next grade level or for graduation,” the association’s president Noel Candelaria said. “So being able for them to have this not be on top of a list of other things that they’re worried about, and just removing that, I think is a huge relief for a lot of our students.”
Some school leaders suggested the state take this opportunity to consider the weight they put on standardized testing.
“We hope that this is an opportunity for the TEA to see that kids can learn and teachers can teach, even in these dire situations, without a STAAR test and be successful,” Education Austin president Ken Zarifis said Monday.
Additionally, Gov. Abbott is requesting the Department of Education waive federal testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.