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

HOUSTON – Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday that the grade-promotion requirement related to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test, for students in grades 5 and 8 will be waived in the 2020-21 school year.

Last month, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath announced that the high-stakes STAAR test will resume in the coming school year after it was waived in the 2019-20 school year due to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting school closures.

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The STAAR test begins in third grade and can stop poor-performing students from advancing to the next grade or graduating high school. Test scores are also used to evaluate teachers and are part of the state’s A-F grading system for schools.

Typically, if a student in grade 5 or 8 does not meet the grade-promotion requirement when they take the test in the spring, they are required to retake the test late in the school year and sometimes in the summer in order to move to the next grade.

With the new waiver in place, students in grades 5 and 8 will only be required to take the STAAR mathematics and reading assessments once in the 2020-21 school year. The test will be administered in May to coincide with the STAAR testing for other grades 3-8, officials announced Monday.

“As always, our goal is to provide a high-quality education for every Texas student,” said Governor 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.”

Morath also said there would be “no benefit to our children by requiring them to repeat a year based on a single test score given the disruptions of COVID.”

Soon after Abbott’s office made the announcement, the Texas State Teachers Association released a statement by President Ovidia Molina expressing support for the move but saying he didn’t go far enough.

“The governor needs to also suspend the A-F school accountability system and the T-TESS teacher appraisal system for the coming school year,” Molina said in part. “They also are heavily tied to STAAR scores. And while he is at it, he should just suspend STAAR testing for 2020-21, period. It is a distraction that students and teachers don’t need while they learn a new education delivery system, and it is an expense that taxpayers can ill-afford.”

Read the TEA’s STAAR testing FAQ sheet below: