STAAR testing to continue in person this spring with these COVID-19 safety changes allowed

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Students will be required to take spring STAAR testing in person, although the Texas Education Agency has adjusted some operational protocols to ensure safety for students.

According to TEA guidance released last week, hotels, learning centers and performing arts centers may all be used as testing sites to enable additional social distancing as long as this criteria is met:

  • There must be at least one test administrator for every 30 students.
  • Sufficient time to complete the test must be ensured for every student (especially for students receiving extra time accommodations).
  • Sufficient bandwidth must be ensured for all students who are testing online.
  • Answer documents should be grouped under the correct Campus and Group Identification.
  • Sheets to ensure test results are attributed to the home campus.

READ: Spring 2021 State Assessment Guidance

The TEA said districts may also apply for a waiver, which would allow in-person students to work from home during testing days to provide more space for test takers.

Zeph Capo, President of Texas AFT, said Commissioner Mike Morath should consider canceling the test. In December, the TEA announced the standardized test would not be used for accountability purposes but to measure student learning during the pandemic.

Capo said the information gleaned from the spring STAAR won’t necessarily be accurate given all the changes students faced in 2020.

“We are all over the place. We have varying levels of students in virtual learning, some coming back earlier than others, school districts making completely different decisions, families making different decisions,” Capo said. “This is a criteria referenced test that may tell us some information, but doesn’t give us the best information in a good year. It certainly won’t be effective in telling us much this year given the fact that we are all over the place.”

Capo suggests asking your school administrators if there are any other options you can choose for your kids if you are wary of sending them in for STAAR testing. Some may offer alternatives that can still prove to the state that academic progress has been made in the same way the STAAR test would.

Reach KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello by email at alexc@kxan.com or by phone at 512-703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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