AUSTIN (KXAN) — Tuesday, third- through eighth-grade students will take the STAAR math test in person.
This is the first time in several years the test results could actually impact schools. The Texas Education Agency canceled the exam in 2020 when the pandemic started.
Last year, students had to take the test again, but not to hold schools accountable. The point was to see how far kids had fallen behind due to the so-called “COVID slide.” Students who didn’t go to school in person every day could opt out.
This year, the tests are being held as usual. It will be used as part of the state’s school accountability system. Schools that get a ‘D’ or ‘F’ will be instead listed as ‘no rating.’
The ‘no rating’ change allows schools to evade sanctions from the TEA. If a school has years and years of low scores, the state could shut it down.
“In part, because we’ve got that redesign, we are rolling out a new testing vendor also because of COVID, and we’re going to be rolling out significant changes next year in the testing system as well,” said Monty Exter, the senior lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators. “So there’s a lot of change going on right now and trying to tie high-stakes accountability to a compliance-based system that is already problematic when it’s also undergoing significant change is just not a good idea.”
However, some believe the TEA should consider removing any accountability system for now.
“In a time of COVID, we should be backing off all these accountability standards, not imposing sanctions and using the test as a weapon in any way,” said Ray McMurrey, the secretary-treasurer for the Texas American Federation of Teachers. “So really, half solution, they’re attempting to give the façade that they’re removing some of the accountability standards when really, they should be removing all of the false accountability standards.”
In a statement the TEA said:
“STAAR results allow parents, teachers, and schools to see how individual students are performing so they can better support those students moving forward. Results also give education leaders and policymakers across Texas a comprehensive picture of how we are recovering, academically, from the pandemic. And STAAR is required by both state and federal law. Cancelling STAAR this school year might seem like the easy decision for some, but it would be the wrong decision for our children, their families, and our state’s future.”