After hearing from Richardson ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone and school district leaders from across the state, Texas Education Agency Mike Morath and Governor Greg Abbott have agreed to waive the required STAAR test for 2020.

“STAAR testing requirements have been waived for the 2019-2020 school year,” tweeted Gov. Abbott this morning. “We will continue to empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19.”

“In normal times, STAAR serves as an invaluable tool to accurately and reliably diagnose how well students have learned to read, write and do math,” wrote Morath this morning. “This information is used by parents to support the academic growth of their children, and by educators to adjust how they approach teaching to maximize student learning.”

“This year, though,” continued Morath, “it has become apparent that schools will be unable to administer STAAR as they would normally. TEA has already waived a host of regulations, allowing school to quickly pivot to provide instruction and support in ways they never have before. We are thankful for Governor Abbott’s willingness to waive the STAAR testing requirement, as it allows schools the maximum flexibility to remain focused on public health while also investing in the capacity to support student learning remotely.”

Today’s announcement did not specify how the state would handle students who need certain state tests to graduate from high school or progress to the next grade. Morath said he would share more information on student testing and school accountability later this week.

On Saturday, Stone signed a letter with leaders of 55 other area school districts urging the unprecedented action.

“As school districts, we are faced with the task of providing educational services to our students in a safe and healthy learning environment,” they wrote. “We are also responsible for our students and contributing to the protection of the overall public health in the midst of a pandemic. As a result, and because of the significant public health threat posed by COVID-19, we have determined that the prudent course of action is to close schools and provide educational services in an alternative manner.”

“While we appreciate the TEA’s support of school district efforts to protect the safety of our students,” the letter continued, “we are concerned with the continued focus on the administration of STAAR as described in the TEA’s most recent guidance to school districts. Given the unique situation with which we are faced, we believe our focus is best placed on keeping students safe and maintaining continuity of instruction, not attempting to implement some alternative form of standardized testing.”

Allen, Frisco, Garland, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano and Rockwall were among the other area schools imploring officials to cancel the test for 2020.