by Aliyya Swaby 7/27/20 (Excerpted Texas Tribune)
Texas students will still have to take the STAAR test next year, but fifth and eighth grade students will be able to move on to the next grade even if they fail, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday.
Normally, fifth and eighth graders must pass the STAAR in order to move on to the next grade, or else they must retake it later that year or over the summer. But Abbott said that next spring, the fifth and eighth grade math and reading exams would only be administered one time, in May.
Parents, educators and lawmakers from both parties have been urging Abbott to call off testing requirements for the upcoming school year because of how the coronavirus pandemic has interrupted students’ usual learning environment. But Abbott said the test was necessary in order to provide a high-quality education for students. "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,” he said in a statement Monday.
The latest decision to continue administering the STAAR came days after federal officials said not to expect a waiver on federal testing requirements next spring. Jim Blew, an assistant secretary to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, told reporters at an event Friday that testing provided many benefits, including showing where students fell behind due to the pandemic.
“We are glad the governor suspended the promotion requirements for fifth and eighth graders that are tied to STAAR scores for the upcoming school year, but he didn’t go far enough. STAAR testing will still be wasteful and stressful at a time when teachers, students and their parents are stressed out enough over a deadly pandemic,” the group’s president, Ovidia Molina, of Texas State Teachers Association, said in a statement.