AUSTIN (KXAN) — Schools across the state will not receive an A-F rating this school year from the Texas Education Agency due to ongoing disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite that change being announced Thursday afternoon, the TEA reported on its website that the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test will still proceed as planned. However, for schools that include STAAR results into teacher evaluations, the agency will let them remove that component this school year.  

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath wrote in a statement, “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.”

The TEA stated every eligible student must have the STAAR test made available to them by their school system. The agency also shared, “STAAR will continue to be administered only in secure environments to ensure the results remain valid and reliable.”

A statement Thursday from the TEA further read, “STAAR 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. However, the STAAR will not be used for accountability purposes this school year.”

This week high school students across Central Texas began returning to campus to take their end-of-course assessment. For many students, this will be the first time on campus since virtual learning took over earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In November a group of Texas superintendents, education advocates and business leaders asked the TEA to keep the planned STAAR test amid calls to forego the exam this school year. The agency proceeded with requiring students to take it.

The Texas State Teachers Association said the money used to give this test could be used to help keep students and teachers safe in the classroom.

“Everything that TEA is doing is sort of a ‘wait and see,’ and we don’t have time to wait and see. Everyday that TEA tells us to wait and see, another educator gets ill or dies,” said Ovidia Molina, president of the association.

The TEA said the STAAR test will help assess Texas students and measure their knowledge.