Archive for June, 2016

Arnold & Placek Comments on Local ISD Use of STAAR Results

Written by A&P News on June 10th, 2016. Posted in News

Arnold & Placek currently represents four parents from across the state of Texas in Lewis, et al. v. Morath, a lawsuit pending in Travis County District Court seeking a declaration that this 2016 STAAR assessments for grades 3-8 did not comply with the time completion standards of the Texas Education Code.  The suit seeks various relief including relief from retention standards, accelerated instruction, and accountability requirements to the extent that such is based on the results of these invalid assessments.  Earlier today, the Texas Education Agency issued a ruling detaching many of the consequences associated with these STAAR results from Grade 5 and Grade 8 assessments.  Determinations at other grade levels are pending.

Nonetheless, the TEA appears to have passed to local districts the discretion to offer accelerated instruction to its students based on these results.

Arnold & Placek, P.C. urges local school districts not to take any punitive or remedial actions against 3rd through 8th grade students as a result of 2016 STAAR assessments.  Regardless of the Texas Education Agency’s stated reason for detaching consequences from the STAAR, the fact remains that these assessments did not comply with the completion time standards of HB 743 and as a result are not valid STAAR assessments.  Although the TEA has left decisions to local districts regarding the use of the assessments for determining accelerated instruction, any attempt by a district to mandate participation in accelerated instruction or take any punitive or remedial action against a student based on these assessment results would invite affected parents to join the pending litigation and add the local district as a defendant.  This would be an irresponsible use of taxpayer money when the TEA has already disclaimed the reliability and validity of these results.

Arnold & Placek Responds to TEA Announcement on 2016 STAAR

Written by A&P News on June 10th, 2016. Posted in News

On May 22, 2016, four Texas parents, represented by Arnold & Placek, P.C., filed suit against the Texas Education Agency alleging that the 2016 STAAR assessments for Grades 3-8 did not comply with state law.  The parents sought relief from the court barring the use of these assessments for decisions related to promotion, retention, accelerated instruction and accountability.  Earlier today, the Texas Education Agency announced that it was removing all consequences to 5th and 8th grade students for 2016 STAAR results.  Further the announcement indicates that the results will not be used for school accountability ratings, although the specific nature of that decision is not disclosed.  All June STAAR retests for 5th and 8th grade were also cancelled.  Specifically, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath stated:

Given that June STAAR test results will not be required to be used for promotion decisions for SSI purposes and are not used for accountability, I am cancelling the June administration of STAAR for grades 5 and 8.  

Students in grades 5 and 8 who did not perform satisfactorily on the March 2016 or May 2016 STAAR mathematics and/or reading tests will not be retested in June. We encourage districts to use local discretion to determine on an individual basis whether accelerated instruction should be offered in the applicable subject area for students who did not pass the mathematics and/or reading assessments in March and/or May. For the 2015–2016 school year, districts are not required to convene grade placement committees based solely on grade 5 and 8 STAAR results.  Instead, you should use local discretion and all relevant and available academic information to make promotion/retention decisions for these students as you see fit, such as the recommendation of the teacher and the student’s grade in each subject.

We are evaluating the full text of the TEA’s statement and we await the agency’s response to the lawsuit which was filed seeking much of this same relief.  Despite the agency’s efforts to deflect blame for this decision onto its vendor, it is evident that the TEA realized that this year’s STAAR administration was not legally defensible.   We believe the TEA has taken sound first steps towards assuring that students do not suffer the consequences for the failures of the agency.  Arnold & Placek, P.C. expresses its continued gratitude to the plaintiffs in this litigation who stood up for their kids and demanded that no children suffer penalties as a result of assessments that do not comply with the laws of the State of Texas.

Additional Resources

  • Lead Counsel Scott Placek is available for comment.  Please schedule via e-mail: splacek@arnoldplacek.com