Governor Greg Abbott Announces Waiver of STAAR Testing Requirement

March 16, 2020

On the morning of Friday, March 13th, following a good conversation with my wife, Leslie, a former public school teacher, I sent a letter to Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath. Though the TEA had rightfully first focused on the health and safety of Texas students and teachers, I knew parents, teachers and administrators would be concerned about what was next.

In my letter, I urged Commissioner Morath to eliminate the STAAR testing requirement for the 2019-2020 school year due to the increasing number of school districts cancelling classes and the need to prioritize classroom instruction over standardized testing for the remainder of the school year. I also wrote to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education Betsy DeVos that day, urging her that Texas not be penalized should we make this commonsense decision.

In the hours and days that followed our publication of those letters, we heard a resounding affirmation that this was the right direction from thousands of parents, educators, administrators and other legislators from all over the state.

This morning, Governor Greg Abbott announced that he had waived STAAR testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year and requested that federal standardized testing requirements be waived. TEA Commissioner Mike Morath followed up shortly after, affirming the Governor’s directive. I’m proud of Governor Abbott’s leadership on all fronts during this situation, and particularly on this issue. This is a much needed win for Texas children and teachers during uncertain times.

Last session, I authored HB 2572, which would begin to move us away from STAAR testing and toward rethinking how Texas conducts student assessments. This approach would have promoted a more authentic, classroom-based assessment of student performance. I look forward to working on student assessment reforms again next session.