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Gov. Abbott waives grade promotion requirements for 2020-21 STAAR testing

Typically, school systems must take into account a student’s score on the STAAR test to determine whether the student can be promoted to the next grade level.

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the grade promotion requirement related to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for students in fifth and eighth grades have been waived for the upcoming school year. 

Typically, school systems must take into account a student’s score on the STAAR test to determine whether the student can be promoted to the next grade level. The traditional A-F rating system will remain in place, albeit with certain adjustments due to COVID-19, according to Abbott's office.

Students enrolled in fifth and eighth grades are typically required to re-take a STAAR test late in the school year, and sometimes again in the summer, if they do not meet grade level when taken during the spring. With this waiver, there will only be one administration of the fifth- and eighth-grade mathematics and reading STAAR assessments for the 2020-21 school year. The test will be administered in May to coincide with the administration of other STAAR assessments for third through eighth grade.  

"As always, our goal is to provide a high-quality education for every Texas student," said Gov. Abbott. "This will be a uniquely challenging school year, therefore, this year is about providing students every opportunity to overcome the disruptions caused by COVID-19. By waiving these promotion requirements, we are providing greater flexibility for students and teachers, while at the same time ensuring that Texas students continue to receive a great education – which we will continue to measure with high-quality assessments."

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Abbott's announcement comes after the Texas Parent Teacher Association joined a growing list – including State Rep. Gina Hinojosa (District 49) of Austin – calling for the state to cancel STAAR testing for the upcoming school year.

Texas PTA President Suzi Kennon said that teachers need to focus on their students' needs, assessing gaps in knowledge and teaching to those gaps. 

"It is critical we give our children, educators, and schools time to recover instructionally and emotionally from last school year while coping with an uncertain future," Kennon's letter to Abbott read.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced on June 30 that STAAR testing would take place this academic year. It was canceled in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Parents deserve to know how well their children have learned grade-level knowledge and skills in reading and math, especially in a time when education has been substantially disrupted," said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. "And educators use this valuable information to make adjustments to support students the following year. But there is no benefit to our children by requiring them to repeat a year based on a single test score given the disruptions of COVID, so we are waiving the grade promotion requirements from STAAR this year for our students."

Amid the governor's announcement the Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) said it appreciated the suspension of STAAR promotion requirements, but still urged all testing to be waived.

“We continue to push for suspension of STAAR testing this year, but removing the high stakes for students associated with it is a good first step,” said Jeri Stone, TCTA executive director. “If the test is not suspended, then not only the promotion requirements, but accountability measures such as A-F grading should also be eliminated for the 2020-21 school year.”

To learn more, visit TEA’s FAQ guide on the Texas Assessment Program.

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