Educators, lawmakers worried about STAAR exams after students return from break

Published: Nov. 21, 2020 at 8:50 AM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - STAAR exams will be held starting Dec. 7, the second week after students return from Thanksgiving, and the timing and consequences of the exam have local leaders concerned.

With Thanksgiving break next week, schools are worried about the potential spread of coronavirus. But it’s not just the first week back they’re worried about – but the second, which falls at the same time as STAAR testing.

“That COVID gestation period is taking about 8 days,” said ECISD Superintendent Scott Muri.

The gestation period falls directly into conflict with the exams.

Beginning Dec. 7, Texas public high schools will administer the exams for students taking Algebra 1, Biology, English 1 and 2, and U.S. History.

Although worried, Muri is supportive of the exams.

“We think it’s a good idea for our students to take the STAAR tests.”

But others disagree.

Over the summer, the Texas Parent Teacher Association (PTA) asked the state to cancel the school year’s exams, saying they don’t feel ready to return to STAAR testing. Many Texas lawmakers agree.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers, including District 81 Representative Brooks Landgraf, signed a letter to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), asking the agency to cancel the year’s tests.

Landgraf has been a vocal opponent of STAAR exams, saying Monday on Twitter on STAAR “has no place on campus this year.”

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath has said how the state will use the tests is still up in the air but has made no effort to cancel them.

At the very least, Landgraf, the Texas PTA, and Muri believe the exam shouldn’t be used to make serious decisions this year.

“That assessment should not be used to make to make any decisions around promotion or retention for our students,” Muri said. “It should not be used in a high-stakes manner for our kids. It should not be used to make decisions about schools, whether it be grading or consequences.”

In the meantime, both the ECISD and Midland ISD are planning to issue the tests in-person as required by state law and make sure proper health and CDC protocols are followed.

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