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!
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.