With the first round of State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) testing scheduled to begin on April 6, will students have time to prepare? Educators were asking this due to government mandates and restrictions in response to the Chinese coronavirus, and now many have lost another week of school due to snowstorms and power outages.

Students have had a difficult past year and are trying to catch up from setbacks due to government shutdowns of schools in response to the coronavirus. 

Officials with the Texas Educational Agency released a study on January 14 on student performance in their Beginning Of the Year (BOY) assessment. BOY assessments are used by educators to see what students retained from the previous school year. Not all students took the assessment, but just under 650,000 students from 334 districts participated.

That study showed students are experiencing roughly three months of “instructional loss,” not counting the two and a half months of summer break.

Just a month later, students have had another obstacle to overcome. This week’s ice and snow storm, combined with statewide power outages, kept most students from attending class, both in-person and digitally.

Some districts had to close their campuses this Thursday, resulting in seven days of lost instructional time.

With that loss, teachers are stating they will not be able to adequately prepare their students in the final stretch for the STAAR test. One teacher said they were already moving at half the rate they should be, due to trying to catch up on the lost information.

“By losing this week, [it] has set us back at least two weeks,” she said.

Another teacher said that while “his classes were ahead” of where they needed to be, “most students probably were not.” Students who may have needed further assistance before taking the STAAR test will likely notice a week’s worth of lost instructional time.

With the potential for students to be even further behind than they were previously, should the Texas Education Agency postpone or cancel the STAAR? Students that are learning remotely can “opt-out” of taking the STAAR test. Should all students now have that option?

Concerned citizens can reach out to their state representatives or TEA at (512)-463-9734.

Tera Collum

Tera Collum has 13 years experience as a government and economics teacher in Texas public schools. She recently was the director of The Travis Institute of Educational Policy and Teachers for Texas.