Letter

18 November 2020

Letter Requesting the Cancellation of the STARR Administration for the 2020-2021 School Year

November 18, 2020

The Honorable Mike Morath
Commissioner, Texas Education Agency
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701

[Delivered Electronically]

Commissioner Morath:

We are writing to request that, for the 2020-2021 school year, the Texas Education Agency seek the waivers necessary from the United States Department of Education for federal testing and accountability requirements to cancel the administration of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam. At most, any administration of the STAAR exam during the 2020-2021 school year should only serve as a diagnostic instrument to see where our students stand academically as opposed to an assessment instrument to determine district and campus sanctions under the current A-F accountability system.

As the Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, you and your staff have witnessed firsthand the difficulties COVID19 has presented to our educators, our students, and their families; in every aspect of life, nothing has been left untouched or unaffected by this pandemic. Given the agency’s understanding of the anticipated impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on public education in this State, we appreciate the agency’s foresight by waiving the Student Success Initiative promotion requirements for the 2020-2021 school year, however, we believe that the agency should also recognize that the effects of this ongoing pandemic extend beyond concerns regarding promotion and retention of students and will also impact an accountability system that heavily weighs campus and district performance on student achievement and growth.

The COVID Slide2, an academic deficit that the agency has widely recognized, has resulted in students, across the state, being behind grade-level in nearly every subject. Instead of proceeding with the administration of the STAAR exam as planned, the agency, along with our districts and campuses, should be focused on providing high-quality public education with an emphasis on ensuring the health and safety of students and educators. While data from the STAAR exam may be a good indicator of where our students are currently, the data should be used in a manner to chart a path forward as opposed to being used to sanction our districts and campuses.

We appreciate your time regarding this issue. Our offices stand ready to assist you and the agency in any manner you deem necessary.

Sincerely,

Representative Trent Ashby
Representative Diego M. Bernal
Representative Alma A. Allen
Representative Rafael Anchía
Representative Ernest Bailes
Representative Michelle Beckley
Representative Lorraine Birabil
Representative César Blanco
Representative Rhetta Andrews Bowers
Representative Brad Buckley, DVM
Representative John Bucy III
Representative DeWayne Burns
Representative Briscoe Cain
Representative Gina Calanni
Representative Travis Clardy
Representative Garnet Coleman
Representative Nicole Collier
Representative Philip Cortez, Ph.D.
Representative Drew Darby
Representative Jay Dean
Representative Joe Deshotel
Representative Art Fierro
Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins
Representative Jessica González
Representative Mary González, Ph.D.
Representative Vikki Goodwin
Representative R. D. “Bobby” Guerra
Representative Roland Gutierrez
Representative Cody Harris
Representative Ana Hernandez
Representative Abel Herrero
Representative Gina Hinojosa
Representative Justin Holland
Representative Donna Howard
Representative Celia Israel
Representative Julie Johnson
Representative Kyle Kacal
Representative Tracy O. King
Representative Matt Krause
Representative Stan Lambert
Representative Brooks Landgraf
Representative Ray Lopez
Representative Armando “Mando” Martinez
Representative Trey Martinez Fischer
Representative Terry Meza
Representative Ina Minjarez
Representative Christina Morales
Representative Sergio Muñoz, Jr.
Representative Andrew Murr
Representative Lina Ortega
Representative Leo Pacheco
Representative Mary Ann Perez
Representative Ana-Maria Ramos
Representative Richard Peña Raymond
Representative Ron Reynolds
Representative Ramon Romero Jr.
Representative Toni Rose
Representative Jon Rosenthal
Representative J.D. Sheffield, DO
Representative Carl Sherman
Representative Lynn Stucky, DVM
Representative James Talarico
Representative Shawn Thierry
Representative Ed Thompson
Representative Senfronia Thompson
Representative Chris Turner
Representative Gene Wu
Representative Erin Zwiener

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