TEA pauses A-F school ratings for 2020-21, but STAAR test will proceed

The Texas Education Agency announced that A-F ratings for schools will be paused for the 2020-21 school year, but the STAAR test will still proceed.

The TEA says they are pausing the ratings due to ongoing disruptions associated with COVID-19, but they will proceed with STAAR testing to help parents and educators understand what students have learned this year and gauge the impacts of the pandemic on education.

“The last nine months have been some of the most disruptive of our lives. The challenges have been especially pronounced for our parents, teachers, and students. We continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff in our schools this year, while working to ensure students grow academically,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

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The TEA says the STAAR results will give education leaders and policymakers a comprehensive picture of the impacts of the pandemic on student learning, helping policymakers craft solutions for the years ahead.

The STAAR will not be used for accountability purposes this school year, officials say.

“The issuance of A-F ratings for schools has proven to be a valuable tool to support continuous improvement for our students, allowing educators, parents, and the general public to better identify and expand efforts that are working for kids. But the pandemic has disrupted school operations in fundamental ways that have often been outside the control of our school leaders, making it far more difficult to use these ratings as a tool to support student academic growth. As a result, we will not issue A-F ratings this school year,” Morath said.

The TEA says they are providing flexibility to schools that incorporate STAAR results into teacher evaluations to allow them to remove that component this school year.

According to the TEA, school systems are required to make STAAR available to every eligible student, and the test will be administered on school campuses or other secure alternative testing sites. They say STAAR will continue to be administered only in secure environments to ensure the results remain valid and reliable.

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ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes said, “As an association representing 100,000 educators across the state, who have made extraordinary sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are grateful that TEA and Commissioner Morath have taken some of our advocacy to heart. These changes do not quite go as far as we wish and have fought for these last few months, but we appreciate that TEA has clearly heard us. For now, at least, our state’s dedicated educators have one less thing to worry about. We believe that waiving the STAAR test mandate completely for the year is the best move for our Texas public schools. However, removing the added pressure of the A-F ratings is a step in the right direction.”