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Powell calls for reform to ‘completely inappropriate and unnecessary’ STAAR test following low test results

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Texas students who received the majority of their education online saw a significant decline in their standardized test results, according to a report by the Texas Tribune.

According to the report, districts that conducted the majority of their classes online saw the largest drop in test scores, with the percentage of students meeting math test expectations falling by 32% and the percentage of students meeting reading test expectations falling by 9%, compared to scores in 2019.

“After this stressful year, it was completely inappropriate and unnecessary to impose the STAAR on our students and educators,” State Sen. Beverly Powell stated on Facebook. “Unsurprisingly, the 2021 STAAR results reflected this strain. We must drastically reform this ineffective assessment obsession and let our teachers teach!”

According to a Fox 4 report, only 20% of children performed poorly on the math section of the test prior to the COVID pandemic, while over 40% tested poorly this year, confirming educators’ concerns regarding the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The impact of the coronavirus on what school means and what school is has been truly profound,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath told reporters on June 28. “What we know now with certainty is that the decision in Texas to prioritize in-person instruction was critical.”

Although the state’s test scores have gradually improved since 2012, the setbacks caused by COVID-19 resulted in a drop in the percentage of children achieving reading expectations to the 2016 rate and a drop in the percentage of children achieving math expectations to 2013 passing rates.

“The data may be disheartening, but with it, our teachers and school leaders are building action plans to support students in the new school year,” Morath said. “Policymakers are using it to direct resources where they are needed most.”

The state legislature recently approved House Bill 4545 in order to provide districts with additional tools to help students catch up. The bill mandates school districts to give tutoring to any student who does not achieve grade-level requirements and to hire high-performing instructors.

Additionally, Morath noted that school districts such as Fort Worth ISD and others are expanding educational options, including lengthening the school day for “tutoring and enrichment,” and enrolling summer school students at a rate three times the normal rate.

The Forth Worth school system is also expanding its tutoring program and increasing the number of counselors and social workers on its campuses, as well as offering broadband connection to a quarter of its families in order to help with homework requirements.

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