Lawmakers and parents are voicing concerns in response.
"I’ve talked with so many parents who say, ‘I’ve been staying home all year to keep my kids safe, why am I going to take them down now to take a test that doesn’t really matter and isn’t even going to accurately capture what they can do," said Sharyn Vane, a parent of two high school students in the Austin ISD. "It’s a lot of fuss and bother for not a lot of payoff."
Senator Jose Menendez (D) recently filed a bill to cancel STAAR testing this year. "Wait, you ask me to take my kid home and do virtual because you’re afraid, but now you want me to take my child into a large setting just to take a test?" he said. "I think we need to question the common sense of this."
Other lawmakers had similar concerns on Wednesday. The Texas House Democratic Caucus also called on the Texas Education Agency to cancel the tests this year.
"We see that other tests are able to be done virtually," said state Representative Ana Hernandez during the virtual meeting. "There’s no reason to put families, students, teachers, and staff at risk to require this in-person examination."
In November, Representative Diego Bernal (D) sent a letter to TEA asking for the same thing. The letter was signed by more than 60 lawmakers.
The TEA did announce one change to this year’s tests - school districts won’t be rated based on results.
In a recent press release, the TEA said that results of the STAAR tests will give "education leaders and policymakers across Texas a comprehensive picture of what is likely to be sweeping impacts of the pandemic on student learning."
However, many parents and legislators don’t believe this kind of testing is the best way to gauge a student’s progress in a normal year - much less during a pandemic.
"The $80 million or $90 million we’re going to use implementing the STAAR test could be used so much more efficiently," said Sen. Menendez.
According to the TEA, though STAAR exams are required for graduating seniors, there are two alternatives. Students can take a specified substitute assessment (i.e. SAT or ACT), or they can go through an individual graduation committee (IGC).
FOX7 wasn’t able to reach TEA for comment on Wednesday.
STAAR testing starts in April.