TEMPLE, TX — The Temple Independent School District board of trustees unanimously approved a resolution directing Superintendent Bobby Ott to formally request that the Texas Education Agency waive state assessment and accountability requirements for the 2020-2021 school year.
The board cited Governor Abbott’s renewed declaration of a state of disaster for all counties in Texas, a decrease in face-to-face learners due to COVID-19 and the subsequent loss of learning resulting from a rapid transition from face-to-face to hybrid and online instruction as reasons for the resolution.
“Educators across the state are facing a year unlike any other,” said Temple school board president, Dan Posey. “Our board, therefore, finds it unjust to hold schools to the standards of a year like any other.”
On March 16 of this year, Governor Abbott waived STAAR testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.
That round of testing, Temple administrators agree, is one that students were mostly prepared for because they had 26 weeks of uninhibited, traditional instruction.
“The rationale for suspending last year’s assessments was not due to student preparedness, but out of concern for the physical administration of tests amid a pandemic,” Ott said. “This coming spring, I would also contend that continuing with the STAAR test and A-F would be holding public schools to a traditional standard during a nontraditional school year.”
On the first day of school in September of 2020, Temple ISD saw a 32 percent decrease in face-to-face learners when compared to the start of school in August of 2019.
With nearly a third of the student body learning remotely, teachers became responsible for an additional delivery method to reach those learners.
According to Raise Your Hand Texas, a non-profit advocacy group for public education in Texas, changes in instructional delivery methods have already had negative effects on student learning outcomes.
Should TEA uphold the coming state assessment schedule, Temple ISD will have had 30 weeks of a blend of traditional, remote and hybrid instruction.
“Instructional delivery for a single grading period may not look the same for students in the same classroom, let alone for millions across the state over the course of a school year,” Ott said. “Carrying out standardized testing for students learning under disparate conditions places additional, undue stress on students and educators for the sake of collecting data that will reflect an inaccurate picture of the state of public education in Texas.”
The letter to TEA Commissioner, Mike Morath, will be sent Nov. 10.
Statewide professional associations, local legislators and regional education agencies have already begun asking for copies of this resolution. “School districts have been forced to implement nontraditional practices,” Ott said. “The state should exercise the same level of flexibility under given conditions.”