All STAAR tests for 2019-2020 cancelled, graduation requirements changed

All STAAR tests for 2019-2020have been cancelled and graduation requirements have been changed due to COVID-19.

Photo by: Texas Education Agency

All STAAR tests for 2019-2020have been cancelled and graduation requirements have been changed due to COVID-19.

Faith Lawrence, Managing Editor

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released information on Wednesday, March 18 regarding the 2019-2020 school year, State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests and graduation requirements. 

On Monday, March 16, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the state would waive all STAAR test requirements for Texas Schools. The TEA elaborated on this information and stated in its recent announcement that all STAAR exams scheduled for April, May and June of 2020 will be cancelled.

“The Texas Assessment Program serves as an invaluable tool to accurately and reliably diagnose how well students have learned their grade-level and course content,” the TEA said in its announcement. “While the typical state assessment data will not be available this year due to the cancellation of testing, TEA will continue to support schools by making other tools available to diagnose student learning. More information will be provided as these tools become available.”

Freshman, sophomores and juniors currently enrolled in classes that require taking a STAAR EOC assessment will not be responsible for meeting their EOC graduation requirements for this year as long as they earn credit for the class. 

“I like this decision a lot because a lot of students can get great grades the entire year and yet do poorly on the STAAR tests because they just aren’t good at taking tests,” junior Brenna Martin said. “I definitely think this was the best decision based on COVID-19 because it keeps us out of school where we’d all be in a confined space with each other for the majority of the day which would allow for the virus to be spread easily.”

Most seniors should have already completed their STAAR End-of-Course (EOC) assessments, but test requirements for seniors who have failed up to two EOC tests will be waived so they can graduate. Seniors who have not passed more than two EOC assessments will not have those requirements waived. 

“I think it was a good decision for the time being but I do think for the freshman through juniors should be responsible to take the STAAR tests they missed in the following year to make it fair for all previous and future students that had to take or will have to take them,” senior Madeline Finkenbinder said. “I would not think it is fair if the underclassmen never had to take the STAAR tests they missed.”

Additionally, the TEA statement announced individual districts will determine other graduation requirements for seniors including curriculum conditions and completion of an education program. 

“I am a little worried about getting graduation requirements because AISD has not come out with a final statement regarding how school will be completed,” Finkenbinder said. “I imagine we will go online for the rest of the semester but I am worried about how that will affect my learning because I learn best from another person, not just reading and taking notes online.”

For elementary and middle schools, each school district will decide if individual students should be able to advance to the next grade level or not based on the student’s grade in each subject and recommendations from the student’s teacher.

“I feel like the recommendation from the teacher and the current grade in the subject are a fair way of determining if a student advances to the next grade,” Mills Elementary School teacher Amy Jackson said. “Those two indicators are a more accurate and organic assessment of where the student is in [their] learning, in my opinion. The STAAR, while an important tool, is just a snapshot of where the student is academically.”

*The story will be updated by Dispatch staff as more information is available.