TEA Violates Law; Refuses to Validate Assessments

In a decision that surprises absolutely nobody, the Texas Education Agency has announced that it will ignore the recent changes to STAAR assessment imposed by the 84th Legislature.  In HB 743, the legislature required that assessments be shortened, that they occur only over the course of one day, and that they be independently validated.  This bill passed overwhelmingly and is in effect.  For this school year, all assessments must comply with the law.

However, the TEA has announced that it will not follow the law this year.  It has stated it will not administer shortened assessments until 2017 and that it will “decide” whether its current process of internal assessment review is an “independent” validation.  Clearly, if the legislature felt the assessment instruments were currently being validated, there would be no need for the law.  This is just wishful, if not willful, misconduct by the TEA.

For parents, however, there are significant ramifications. The TEA intends to subject your children to assessments that do not comply with the law and to permit schools to use these illegal assessments to promote or retain your children.  The clearest impact is in grades 3-5.  In our Forms and Documents section you will find a link to a new refusal letter based on the illegality of the assessments.  Please also consider signing the petition below!

Petition to Require TEA to Follow the Law

TPERN also urges all parents to contact their local state representative and senator and demand hearings regarding the TEA’s belief that it is above the law.  The irony of an agency that tells parents that the law requires them to take the STAAR (when it doesn’t) deciding it can ignore the law whenever it likes, is too outrageous for words.  The leadership of this rogue agency must be called to account.

Update: We have been asked about documentation of the TEA’s position.  This is derived from the TEA’s Legislative Briefing Book, contained on their website, and linked herein.  The discussion of HB 743 begins on numbered page 80.  Discussing the STAAR assessments for Grades 3-5 the TEA states “The grades 3-5 assessments in reading and mathematics cannot be revised in time for the spring 2016 administration. The first administration of the shortened assessments would occur in spring 2017.”  A similar statement exists for the writing assessments.  Discussing the possibility that they do not need to independently validate the assessment, the TEA states “Prior to the spring 2016 administration, the agency must determine whether the TTAC, or USDE peer review process to approve state achievement standards and assessment systems required under Title I, meets the requirements of (a-11). If not, an independent entity will need to be contracted with to perform the evaluation pending available funding.”  They also complain there is no appropriation for this, indicating that they may choose to ignore the requirement because funds were not EXPRESSLY appropriated for the purpose.

Update 2: It has been pointed out that the TEA apparently back-tracked on writing assessments and will limit them to one day.  However, the will not fit within the time parameters set by the  legislature, so they are still not in compliance. This information is found here.

Update 3:  TEA lies and refusal continue.  Under pressure from the legislature and parent groups, they have now announced they will remove the field test questions from the assessments this spring.  While that will shorten the assessments by five to eight questions, it will not get them under two hours for grades 3-5 as required by law.  This is not a “victory” as some parents are claiming and as the press is reporting.  It is continued violation of the law by the TEA.

12 Comments

    1. admin

      Thank you for taking the time to proof the article. I hope that you also took the time to sign the petition or write your legislators about this issue.

      1. Rori Travis

        Nice snarky response to a perfectly legitimate point. If you want people to think you are so intelligent try basic grammar. There are actually several mistakes in here: grammar and content. The tests are being shortened. Seventh grade writing is now one day and only one essay. That would be this school year that it’s (it is) being implemented. Oh, and, yes, I am a teacher–an English teacher.

        1. admin

          The assessments do not meet the requirements of the legislature. Period. They are shorter, but not compliant. As a teacher you should know this. It is a shame you don’t and shill for your employer.

  1. leslie

    I asked my child (5th grade) about this law. She claimed she never heard of it. I explained and she said “Oh that is next year”. I informed her no it is not and that if she would like I have a copy of the bill. She said yes. Once she knows (which I am sure she does) the truth, I will then ask her how can she in good conscious allow the school to break the law, and then use the results of that illegally administered test to try to hold a child back. I will also be presenting her with the letter of illegality found here as well as one I wrote encouraging her to stand up for the well being of the children and the law. In the letter I told her no way could a school get in trouble for FOLLOWING the law. I will be giving her this tomorrow (Thursday 11/11/15)

  2. leslie wilhelmus

    I spoke to the governor’s office regarding this. The representative was very interested that the TEA is refusing to follow to law. They want it faxed, mailed, sent over the internet in writing that they will not follow the law. I plan on sending this page and the links. I am thinking everyone should bombard the governor that the law he signed in June of 2015, is being blatantly ignored. Signed in June 2015, they had plenty of time to take some questions out before the 2016 admission of this assessment! Almost a whole year, 10 or 11 months I think.

    What do you all think?

    1. Jo Ann Smith

      I think ur brilliant! Way to go the next step! My questions to u is; “Have u heard back anything from the Governors office since & what was it?”… So the test should only be for 2 hours?… My son is in the 8th grade, autistic, 504 program & special Ed/regular classes. He struggles in timed work, stresses, but esp. for the thought of the STAAR. I’m prob gonna be giving the school an Opt Out letter anyways because of him, my moral & religious beliefs. But, I would still like to know what response u got from the Gov.s office so I could do the same thing u did. And also, I’d ask the school how long their STAAR is for, then the TEA & show them the page/links. I hope u will reply back…& Thank u.

      1. admin

        “House Bill 743, which was passed by the Legislature earlier this year, requires STAAR assessments be designed so 85 percent of students can complete the grades 3-5 assessments in two hours and 85 percent of students can complete the grades 6-8 assessments in three hours,”

        The changes the TEA is making definitely do not meet the requirements for Grades 3-5. I doubt they meet the requirements for Grades 6-8, but I don’t know this with any certainty. We do know the Grade 7 writing assessment is a four hour assessment, so it is non-compliant on its face.

  3. Lori Hines

    Oh, the governor knows about this. But he is in the tank for the assessment game. Just like he is in the tank for common core and all the math nonsense. Fight like hell for your kids education.

  4. dyana

    If taken literally, “House Bill 743 requires that STAAR assessments be designed so that 85% of students can complete the grades 3–5 assessments in two hours and 85% of students can complete the grades 6–8 assessments in three hours.”, the whole of all the “tests” should be completed in the time allotted. In other words, for 8th grade, it should take 3 hours to complete ALL of subjects (Math, Social Studies, Science, and ELA). Am I the only one that reads it this way?

Leave A Comment?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.