As the COVID-19 virus gains momentum, and infection numbers rising across the United States (over 4,000 U.S. cases as of presstime), Gov. Gregg Abbott announced Monday morning that he is waiving the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) testing requirements for the current school year. Local schools in Rusk County have already chosen to extend spring break, with some school districts in East Texas not expecting to return to class until March 30.
STAAR testing involves standardized tests that are used in public primary and secondary schools to assess a student’s achievements and knowledge learned in a specific grade level. The testing program began in 2012 and was set out in the Texas Education Code chapter 39 and 19 Texas Administrative Code chapter 101. The testing occurs in grades 3-8, as well as in high school, and define what Texas students should learn in every grade level.
In a tweet Monday morning, Gov. Abbott said, “I have eliminated the STAAR testing requirements for this school year. We must empower schools to focus on the health of their students, teachers and families.”
Additionally, Gov. Abbott has requested that the Department of Education (DOE) waive federal testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.
Working closely with the Texas Education Agency, Gov. Abbott wants to ensure that schools are able to deliver instruction to students while they are absent or while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 virus. A press release issued from the Governor’s office also states that these measures include tailoring instruction for students with special needs so that they have access to the same education as other students in the district, as well as other methods to ensure that students are learning and ready to succeed at the next grade-level. The discussions are ongoing and more information about these steps will be provided as they develop.
“Your health and safety are top priorities and the state of Texas will give school districts flexibility to protect and endure the health of students, faculty and their families,” Gov. Abbott said.