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Testing Season Starts Without Decision On Waiver For Hurricane Harvey

Poor scores can have steep consequences for their schools, even potential closure, under the state’s accountability system.

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

Standardized testing season is officially in full swing in Texas, starting Tuesday.

But dozens of school districts still recovering from Hurricane Harvey hope poor scores won’t count against them.

This week students in the fourth and seventh grades will take their writing exam, known as the STAAR. Fifth and eighth graders will take their math and reading tests. And high school students will take English exams they need to graduate.

Poor scores can have steep consequences for their schools, even potential closure, under the state’s accountability system.

Since October, district administrators along the Texas Gulf Coast have asked state officials for a break, arguing high-stakes testing shouldn’t punish students and teachers recovering from a natural disaster. Data analysis by the advocacy group Children at Risk shows that 1.4 million students missed at least a week of school during the storm and 400,000 school-aged children live in households that applied for federal emergency assistance.

Still, there’s no word from the state’s Education Commissioner on that.

DeEtta Culbertson with the Texas Education Agency said in an email that if there’s any decision on a testing waiver, it will come later this spring.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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