Rio Grande Valley schools prepare for in person STAAR test

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Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)-The Texas Education Agency said students must take the STAAR test in person, and now school districts in the Rio Grande Valley are discussing how to do that safely.

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While the test will go on, the state is allowing for some flexibility, by expanding the time to test students to five weeks.

“One of the questions that I asked Commissioner Morath, was if you were to get the federal waiver approved, do you plan on cancelling the administration of the STAAR exam for Texas schools? And without hesitation his answer was no.”  said Ruben Cortez, State Board of Education, Place 2.

Because students will have to social distance, the state is also allowing schools to use other facilities such as hotel to take the test. All schools KVEO spoke to say they will be able to test on campus using a rotating schedule.

Students to return to the classroom for STAAR testing

“The expanded window allows for smaller testing groups, and just allows for better spacing of students, following local CDC recommendations and practices.”  said Dalia Garcia, Administrator of Performance and Outcomes for Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.

“So we have a different group of students coming in everyday to test.” said Dr. Hafedh Azaiez, Superintendent, Donna The District

Schools can file a waiver, so students who are not testing can learn from home, another issue districts say they will have is participation.

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“I mean how can we get students to come and test? We cannot force them to come and test, and you know they expect 90 percent or more, so it’s going to be a huge issue for us.”  said Dr. Azaiez

State Board of Education member, Ruben Cortez said he does not plan to send his three children to take the test. Cortez adds the test is not a priority for public schools or parents.

“I’m hoping there is not going to be some kind of punishment.” said Cortez. “They do not need to penalize these children, because parents have made the choice to protect the health and safety of the child.” 

Cortez said the tens of millions of dollars the state used to administer the test, are better spent helping students who have fallen behind.

If you would like to take a look at the full guidance issued by the TEA, you can click here.

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