TEA pauses A-F ratings but will still require STAAR testing

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 12/11/20

The Texas Education Agency announced via a press release Thursday that it has put a pause on the A-F rating system for Texas schools due to the challenges associated with education during the …

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TEA pauses A-F ratings but will still require STAAR testing

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The Texas Education Agency announced via a press release Thursday that it has put a pause on the A-F rating system for Texas schools due to the challenges associated with education during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in the same announcement the agency which oversees Texas schools indicated that students would still have to take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness – or STAAR – tests this school year.

“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 via press release.

The use of the STAAR test was not suspended because the agency feels that it is criticl to provide the information about student learning that teachers and parents obtain through the test as they make decisions regarding students’ educational needs, the press release said.

The release also acknowledged the challenges faced by local policymakers, parents and teachers working to educate students during the pandemic. Local educators expressed appreciation for the TEA’s decision.

“Royal ISD leadership supports the state’s decision to suspend the district rating and continue with testing,” said Royal ISD Associate Superintendent Kendra Strange. “We welcome the fresh data that the STAAR tests provides us to guide our instruction and help us fill in the gaps from COVID slides.”

Strange said Royal ISD understands that data from the STAAR test will be for informational purposes and not necessarily a full measure of student success, it will still be useful as educators try to identify gaps and continue to help students despite the pandemic.

“We are always striving to get better and see the STAAR data as a means to find ways to improve our virtual and face-to-face learning environments,” Strange said.

Katy Times reached out to Katy ISD but declined to provide a statement regarding the decision at the time.

Morath said the TEA still sees value in the A-F rating system  as a tool for improving the school system, but said stepping away from the system given the challenges of the pandemic was appropriate.

“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.

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