Pushing an unrelenting district-based assessment schedule, HISD seems completely disconnected from the day-to-day impact of COVID on students and their families.
Here is a link to the six page long revised HISD district- assessment schedule.
A third grade teacher writes, “In just 13 ½ weeks (Sept 21-Jan. 13), I have been required to give my students fourteen district-level assessments and 28 “strongly encouraged” weekly content assessments. This means that for 60% of the class days held so far this year, my students have taken an assessment of some kind.”
Certainly, low stakes diagnostic testing is a meaningful component of a well-rounded curriculum. However, this is taking testing to an extreme that no one would want for any child.
A kindergarten parent writes, “They cancelled my son’s morning classes for ALL of November to administer four HISD district-based assessments. The very first week back in January, my son took the MOY (middle of the year) assessment. What we should be doing instead is letting teachers utilize creative approaches, create their own assessments and reach their own students in whatever way works during these difficult times.”
A principal states, “I will not coerce parents into returning to in-person instruction in the middle of a pandemic, not for district-based assessments, not for TELPAS, not for STAAR. I will find a different way to support parents and their families.”
Unfortunately, other principals, in some cases at the behest of their supervisors, have already demanded that families return to school. A second grade parent writes, “My principal called me and other parents yesterday to take the district-based assessments in person even though we live in a neighborhood with lots of COVID cases and deaths.”
Fair Test writes, “Instead of more testing, we should be focusing on solutions that address poverty, racial inequities, and school funding disparities.” The NAACP and other civil rights organizations have expressed similar concerns.
A middle school teacher writes, “I am required to give five district and school-based assessments over the next 10 days to my students- the DLA over two days, a final exam, the Ren 360 Middle of the Year (MOY) Assessment, a common assessment and an Imagine Learning benchmark. I believe that data is important, but this is too much.”
A high school teacher reports that “the push to force failing and absent students back to in-person instruction only to greet them with days on end of district assessments is misguided and entirely counterproductive. What our students need is personalization and support, not getting ‘measured’ incessantly.”
We should divert the funds and time used for testing and data accumulation and instead spend the money on a robust program of creative teaching, wraparound services and tutorial support.
What can be done?
- The governor should cancel STAAR this year and guarantee graduation for students caught in the crosshairs of COVID. Even TEA’s own statisticians cite that STAAR data will be suspect and skyrocketing COVID numbers make testing ill-advised from a public health perspective.Email the governor and your state legislator today. Who represents me?
- Local school districts should reduce the number of assessments on their spring testing calendars. There is truly no reason to administer the STAAR mock exam to students when STAAR itself will not be used.
- Principals should make some of these assessments voluntary. Many do.
- Principals and SSOs should not coerce parents into returning to face to face “instruction” to take district-level assessments, TELPAS (for English Language Learners) and STAAR.
- Parents cannot be required to attend school in-person, whether to take the STAAR, the TELPAS or for anything. District-based assessments cannot be used for a grade. Parents have options. Virtual families will not be required to take the STAAR or other state assessments. In-person parents can choose virtual during the testing month or simply refuse the test.