Parents and students who'd hoped to see the annual State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams cancelled for the 2020-2021 school year will be disappointed to learn that they have not. In fact, some students are already taking the English portion of the exam.

However, there's good news for Texas school districts. The Texas Education Agency announced Thursday that it will pause the A through F ratings it usually assigns to schools, based in part on STAAR performance.

In their statement, the TEA wrote that the exams will proceed "in order to provide critically important information about individual student learning that teachers and parents can use to help students grow."

In other words, to gauge whether or not Texas students are absorbing the material.

TEA officials say the test results will allow schools, teachers, and parents to see how individual students are performing and give education leaders and policymakers a comprehensive picture of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on student performance. That data will then be factored into coming up with new policies and, they hope, solutions.

However, the TEA stated Thursday that STAAR results "will not be used for accountability purposes this school year."

“The issuance of A-F ratings for schools has proven to be a valuable tool to support continuous improvement for our students, allowing educators, parents, and the general public to better identify and expand efforts that are working for kids," Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath wrote. "But the pandemic has disrupted school operations in fundamental ways that have often been outside the control of our school leaders, making it far more difficult to use these ratings as a tool to support student academic growth. As a result, we will not issue A-F ratings this school year."

Back in November, many people, including Texas State Representative Diego Bernal, called for the exams to be cancelled, or at the very least only used as a diagnostic tool. Looks like the TEA chose the latter.

What do you think? Should STAAR exams have been cancelled, or is it fair to use them as an academic gauge?

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