As Hurricane Harvey's impact continues to be felt across Southeast Texas, lawmakers gathered in Austin on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, to get an update on the recovery effort. The House Public Education Committee, led by Chair Dan Huberty, invited educators in the affected region to talk about the storm's impact, specifically whether the state needs to adjust accountability measures this year.

TCTA Executive Board member Janie Baszile and House Public Education Committee Chair Dan HubertyTCTA Executive Board member Janie Baszile with House Public Education Committee Chairperson Dan Huberty before the Nov. 14 hearing at the Capitol.

TCTA Budget Committee Chair Janie Baszile, of Galena Park ISD, was among those testifying. She read a statement from TCTA District 5 Director Melissa Davis, who teaches in Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD. Due to the limited instructional time she has with her students, Davis was needed at school and unable to travel to Austin for the hearing.

In her written testimony, Davis says, "Although we are trying the best we can to provide our students with a sense of normalcy, life is anything but normal. When our schools were flooded many of us lost our textbooks and years’ worth of accumulated instructional materials. Because of our limited school hours, our secondary students are on a modified block, meaning they attend four one-hour classes each day. It takes two days to complete an eight-period schedule. In a six-week grading period, I will only see my students 15 times. ... I urge you to work closely with Commissioner Morath and TEA to come up with some solution to relieve the added pressure of the STAAR assessment and accountability measures for the districts that were impacted by Hurricane Harvey and are still working through the recovery process. Many of our students are dealing with huge issues that even adults find daunting. Any assessment results obtained from the impacted districts would be flawed and inaccurate."

TCTA's testimony echoed that of other educators at the Capitol. Superintendents and teachers along the Gulf Coast said their districts continue to struggle to provide resources more than two months after the storm, and said the state should do whatever it can to delay or waive accountability requirements for the 2017-18 school year. Students are struggling with post-traumatic stress and anxiety and, if tested, would likely have their performance impacted by the upheaval.

Education Commissioner Mike Morath told committee members TEA was still gathering data and would likely make a decision in the next couple of weeks about whether to move the testing window in affected districts. Huberty urged Morath to reach out the U.S. Department of Education to find out whether a waiver from testing could be granted and to report back on the financial ramifications of failing to meet federal requirements in affected districts.