No STAAR reprieve for school districts affected by Harvey
Despite pleas by some officials from school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey, the state education commissioner told lawmakers Tuesday that it will be difficult to delay student testing or suspend testing requirements altogether this school year.
Commissioner Mike Morath told members of the House Public Education Committee that he doesn’t have the authority to permit students in Harvey-affected areas not to take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The test is tied to federal funding, which makes up about 10 percent of the state’s education budget.
Morath said delaying STAAR administration also could create further difficulties for school districts, including pushing the last day of school further into the summer and affecting summer school schedules.
Morath said that suspending the STAAR wouldn’t help students either.
“The purpose of these assessments is to determine grade level mastery in reading and math. The purpose of the test is to inform us to what students know. Not issuing a test ... blinds you to that information,” Morath said, adding that he will make a final decision on potential testing changes in the next two weeks.
Harvey ripped through 60 counties along the Texas coast in late August, forcing 1.4 million students to miss at least some school. About 19,000 students are still living in damaged homes or in other temporary housing, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Agency officials have been scrambling to provide some relief to school districts, including creating a mental health task force to help traumatized teachers and students and providing waivers so that school districts won’t lose funding this school year because of drops in student enrollment after Harvey.
Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath testifies at the Capitol on Tuesday.