AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, State Rep. Gina Hinojosa (District 49) of Austin issued a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Education Agency Commissioner (TEA) Mike Morath urging the State to reconsider its stance on STAAR testing for the 2020-21 school year and to join other states in requesting a federal waiver from the exam.
According to a report from KVUE’s news partners at the Austin American-Statesman, the TEA said last week that the State would continue to require students to take the standardized exam with some changes. Among those were that the test would include an expanded testing window and adjustments would be made to the way the State’s accountability system works.
“As Texas children are coping with the emotional stressors brought on by the pandemic, the State should refrain from imposing the additional pressure of a high-stakes, multi-hour, standardized test on students,” Rep. Hinojosa wrote.
In her letter, Rep. Hinojosa expanded on three points:
STAAR will compound emotional stress for children during the pandemic.
“While the appropriateness of requiring children to endure the emotional strain of a high-stakes test for purposes of ‘accountability’ should be reevaluated during normal times, during a pandemic we have a greater responsibility to ensure that the State is not compounding the anxiety our school children experience.”
Texas should join other states and request a federal waiver from testing.
“There is a high probability that such a request from Texas would be approved given that this same request was approved when Texas asked for it in the 2019-2020 school year because of the pandemic.”
STAAR testing is not a priority under current pandemic circumstances and resources should be redirected to more pressing needs for students.
“Now with additional pressures on both our state budget and on family finances because of the pandemic, Texas has a heightened responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are dedicated to their highest use. Spending tens of millions of dollars on a test designed for accountability purposes should not be the State’s current priority. “
The STAAR test is currently administered to students from third grade through high school.
The letter can be read in full here.