CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas House Democratic Caucus called for the cancellation of STAAR testing in 2021.
During a virtual news conference Wednesday, the group renewed calls for a "hold harmless" policy that doesn't penalize schools and students for pandemic-related hardships.
"We are calling for the governor and the Texas Education Agency to extend 'Hold Harmless,' to ensure that our public schools remain fully funded at pre-pandemic levels," said El Paso-area Rep. Mary González during the event.
San Antonio Sen. José Menéndez filed a bill last March which proposed canceling the upcoming STAAR test. Senate Bill 260 was filed Dec. 18, 2020, according to Texas Legislation Online records.
Nueces County Representative Abel Herrero, a member of the House Democratic Caucus, didn't take part in today's news conference, but he released a statement of support for his colleagues.
"During this major health crisis, our students, teachers, and administrators need all the support Texas can provide," the statement read. "That is why I wholeheartedly join my House colleagues in calling for the cancelation of burdensome STAAR testing requirements. Instead, we should ensure schools have all necessary resources to let teachers focus on safely educating our students."
The Texas Tribune reported Jan. 29 that The Texas Education Agency ordered public-school students to show up in-person to take the STAAR test. Some districts can apply for waivers to socially-distance testtakers, according to recent guidance released by the Texas Education Agency.
The leader of a local teacher's union doesn't think students should have to take STAAR tests this year, in-person or otherwise.
C-CAUSE President Susie Saldana's reasoning is two-fold.
"Our children are, one, not prepared right now," she said. "And it’s not safe."
The state standardized tests, taken by students in grades 3-12, will be taken at a “monitored” testing site.
The Texas Tribune reports the TEA already has said students in younger grades who fail required STAAR exams can move up to the next grade and school districts will not receive state ratings this year based on how their students perform on the exams.
But Saldana says that doesn't mean the tests count for nothing.
“It’s still going to be on your record," she said. "You can’t say it’s not going to be on your record, because it is. And you have to give our students a chance to be up to par when they take this test.”
Corpus Christi Independent School District also released a statement.
"We’ll continue to monitor discussions involving STAAR while ensuring the district has a plan in place that meets state and federal guidelines, while maintaining all public health protocols," the statement read.
Parents' opinions were mixed on the possibility of STAAR tests being canceled.
"If we’re going to keep (the tests) away from them, it’s just bad on our part to do that,” David Moya said.
“I would be in favor of it being canceled, yes," Caitlyn Adams said.
Digital Content Producer Ana Tamez contributed to this story.