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Texas representatives request formal opt-out process for in-person STAAR test



Texas — Fighting for their constituents, Texas state representatives sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency Monday morning requesting a formal opt-out process for the STAAR exam.

The effort was led by Rep. Diego Bernal, who represents District 123 in San Antonio.

According to the letter, representatives are still asking the TEA to reconsider canceling the exam. If that doesn’t happen, they feel a formal process to opt-out would at least make parents feel more comfortable.

District 45 Rep. Erin Zwiener, who represents Hays and Blanco Counties, was one of 67 representatives across the state who signed the letter to back Bernal.

“I join Rep. Bernal in wishing that TEA would request a waiver and not give the test this year,” Zwiener said. “But failing that, we at least need to make clear to panicked parents that their kids will not be penalized.”

Hays Consolidated Independent School District parent Priscilla Cerda feels taking the test in person would be too dangerous. She’s especially on edge, saying her entire family got sick with COVID-19 after her kids started going back to school in person. They’re still recovering at home.

“We can’t have big crowds, but now that it’s STAAR testing time, they’re saying let’s bring this big crowd and have everyone together, and that’s supposed to be ok?,” Cerda said.

Zwiener said representatives would like the TEA to reach out to parents and school districts.

“I think what that looks like is parents being notified they have a choice, and that they can either bring their students to school on a certain day, or that they can send back a form that they can opt out,” Zwiener said. “That’s also very important for our school districts for planning purposes.”

Zwiener said they’re also making this request on behalf of school districts.

“School districts have no idea if they will be penalized if a large number of their students opt-out this year,” she said.

Cerda said the relief would be nice, as times are already stressful enough.

“I don’t understand why they want to do that to them,” Cerda said.