Despite cancelled retests, schools continue STAAR remediation

Education commissioner cancels STAAR retesting for fifth and eighth graders (KXAN Photo)
Education commissioner cancels STAAR retesting for fifth and eighth graders (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Central Texas school districts are moving forward with summer STAAR remediation despite the Texas education commissioner’s decision to cancel retesting for fifth and eighth graders next week.

“A little bit of pressure I suppose has been lifted because you don’t have that deadline,” said Abby Chalmers, Director of Communication for the Manor Independent School District.

Their teachers and about 300 students were two days into instruction when Mike Morath made the call last Friday afternoon. District leaders made the decision to keep going with classes, but Manor ISD will be cutting its schedule short by a couple of days. They feel it is still important to give students the extra help they need.

“It is scary as an educator to think you may be sending students to the next grade level who are struggling,” said Chalmers.

Manor ISD received fifth and eighth grade STAAR scores June 1, but on his blog Monday, Morath said the state testing vendor, Educational Testing Services, has not returned scores for some students in a number of districts.

That makes it difficult for schools to decide which students need to be enrolled in summer school leading up to the retest.

Even though Morath has canceled retesting and is allowing students who have not passed to move onto the next grade, he has decided as of right now their scores will still count toward school ratings.

“I think he made the right call,” said Rep. Jimmy Don Aycock, R-Temple.

Monday, the Public Education Chair met with other lawmakers, educators and even moms who make up the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability.

The goal for the group was to spend the day rethinking the future of testing in Texas.

“We don’t need to wreck everything to make it better,” said Rep. Aycock.

Large, white pads of paper lined the front of the room for the brainstorming session. Toward the end of the afternoon they were filled with ideas. There was consensus on several ideas: putting more emphasis on learning instead of testing, removing high stakes, and even the idea of statistical sampling — testing a few students at a time instead of every child every year.

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