TEA advised local districts to cancel the first day of STAAR testing in April after technology issues prevented most students from accessing the online test system. Grade 4 writing, grade 7 writing, and the English I end-of-course exams were affected.
“We understand the frustration this has caused students, parents, teachers and administrators. What happened today is completely unacceptable,” TEA’s Student Assessment Division said in a statement. “We are working to ensure that our students do not experience future testing issues.”
TEA said no further disruptions were reported when testing resumed the next day. ETS holds the current STAAR contract, but TEA will use a new vendor, Cambium Assessment, starting with the 2021-22 school year as it transitions to fully online testing by the 2022-23 school year.
The technology problems are among the reasons many teachers, parents and educator groups, including TCTA, called on state officials to cancel the exams this year. But Education Commissioner Mike Morath, state lawmakers and even President Joe Biden said testing should take place to gather data on the pandemic’s impact on student learning. Morath said the information will help districts address learning loss.
TEA, however, has applied for waivers from federal accountability standards and will not issue A-F ratings this year. It also requested a waiver from federal requirements that at least 95% of students participate in the state assessment. STAAR results also will not be factored into promotional requirements for fifth or eighth graders this year. While STAAR end-of-course requirements remain in place for graduation, individual graduation committees can choose to let seniors meet alternative standards.
Districts can also seek waivers from teacher appraisals that rely on student test results.