After a flurry of requests over the weekend, Gov. Greg Abbott Monday announced that he would waive the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (or STAAR) testing requirements this year as coronavirus outbreaks pepper the state, causing numerous districts to close for potentially weeks.
The tests, which were due to begin on April 7, had been a source of discussion among educators and lawmakers, with more than 50 school districts signing on to a letter Saturday requesting the waiver.
In a statement, Abbott said he would be requesting that the U.S. Department of Education waive federal testing requirements for this school year.
“… due to the unique circumstances that may arise as a result of COVID-19, such as a school closing during the entire testing window, it may not be feasible for a state to administer some or all of its assessments, in which case the department would consider a targeted one-year waiver of the assessment requirements for those schools impacted by the extraordinary circumstances,” the federal agency said in its most recent direction.
Additionally, the governor said his office will work with the Texas Education Agency to make sure students who are out of school because schools are closed due to COVID-19, or because they are sick continue to learn.
“This includes tailoring instruction for students with special needs so that they have access to the same education as other students in the district,” the statement read.
“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,” Abbott said. “We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19.”
TEA commissioner Mike Morath said that since the need for social distancing has caused so many schools to close, the situation became more clear.
“This year, though, it has become apparent that schools will be unable to administer STAAR as they would normally,” Morath said. “We are thankful for Governor Abbott’s willingness to waive the STAAR testing requirement, as it allows schools the maximum flexibility to remain focused on public health while also investing in the capacity to support student learning remotely.”