Despite outcry from communities and educators across Texas, Governor Abbott has not cancelled the STAAR exam this spring. Families, students and educators need support and protection from COVID, not more tests. The good news is, families can stand up and opt out.
Only Governor Abbott (TEA) can cancel STAAR by requesting a federal waiver, but HISD has the power to lessen the harmful burden too. Tell the trustees to share a more accurate message about STAAR with families.
The pandemic is still out of control. Families have chosen virtual school for their health and safety, but the TEA is saying that students must take STAAR in-person. This is FALSE - families CANNOT be forced to bring their children to school for STAAR during COVID.
Except for a small number of high school seniors who still need 3 or more STAAR EOC to graduate, there is NO REASON students have to take STAAR this year. It is not tied to school or teacher evaluations, and is not being used to determine if students are promoted to the next grade.
Here are three immediate steps HISD can take to help students now.
- HISD is able to cancel all practice tests and they should. It is absurd for students to take practice tests when STAAR does not count for almost anything this year. The district needs to send a clear message to principals and take pressure off schools by cancelling practice tests, which take weeks of valuable instructional time from teachers and students.
- Let families know the facts about STAAR this year -- that it is NOT being used for campus A-F accountability, teacher evaluation or student promotion this year. Right now, HISD principals are telling families that they are “required to take the STAAR in person.” This language is misleading. In reality, if you want your child to take the STAAR, they will need to take it in-person, but they do NOT have to. They CAN stay virtual and stay safe.
- Change the HISD STAAR Opt-out form to reflect this reality. Do not give parents the wrong information about what it means to opt out of STAAR during COVID.
Tell the board and Dr. Lathan your thoughts by email or by speaking at Thursday’s board meeting on Feb 11 at 5pm. Sign up here by the 9:30 am Thur. deadline to speak at the board meeting. Sign up to agenda item D3 ( waiving teacher evaluation using STAAR this year) or K1 (new board educational policy that the community has a right to transparency.)
Even before the pandemic, STAAR was under fire for its flawed methodology and cultural bias. We know this test does not reflect kids’ true learning. This year we have a special opportunity to make real change towards better and more equitable public education.
Make your voice heard by telling the HISD school board to let families know the facts and know their rights about STAAR during COVID.