This page was updated on Feb. 16, 2021.

  1. Are schools still required to provide hands-on CPR instruction to students this school year given remote instruction and social distancing requirements? (2/16/21)
  2. Are districts required to continue identifying gifted/talented students during school closures due to COVID-19? (8/20/20)
  3. Are school districts required to continue the selection process for GT placement? (8/20/20)
  4. How do we document what we are providing in terms of G/T services? (9/2/20)
  5. Can districts require in-person testing on school or non-school days? (9/2/20)
  6. During COVID-19, can TEA clarify that remote learning constitutes a student exceptionality for the purposes of identifying students and providing assessment modifications? (9/2/20)
  7. Has TEA provided guidance for discipline and dress code for students in a virtual learning environment? (8/20/20)
  8. What procedures apply if a district wants to place a student into a DAEP? (8/20/20)
  9. Is it possible to dismantle our DAEP for the first semester?
  10. Are students in DAEPs eligible for remote learning? (8/20/20)
  11. How should the instructional methods be decided upon for students assigned to a DAEP? (8/20/20)
  12. Is it acceptable to have regular instructional teachers facilitate students in the remote DAEP settings as opposed to having a designated DAEP teacher? (8/20/20)
  13. In remote settings, must a district continue to separate elementary and secondary students for DAEP classrooms? (8/20/20)
  14. What about teaching DAEP students in the same classroom as non-DAEP students? (8/20/20)
  15. What is the length-of-day requirements for the synchronous and asynchronous DAEP settings? (8/20/20)
  16. What about class sizes in DAEPs? (8/20/20)
  17. Are districts required to provide the same mental health supports to students in a remote DAEP as they are in an on-campus DAEP? (8/20/20) 
  18. Are students placed into in-school suspension (ISS) eligible for remote learning? (8/20/20)
  19. Are districts and charter schools still required to provide early notice to parents or guardians of grade 4 and grade 7 students identified to be at risk of failure on the first administration of the assessment required for grade advancement next year? (8/20/20)
  20. Are there resources on behavioral support services? (8/20/20)
  21. Has TEA provided guidance for pregnancy-related services? (8/20/20)

STUDENT TESTING

  1. Are students required to take the STAAR exam or other statewide exams for the 2020-21 school year? (updated 1/21/21)
  2. Is the student success initiative requiring students in 5th and 8th grade to pass the math and reading STAAR exams in effect in the 2020-21 school year? (8/20/20)
  3. Is a district required to provide students failing the EOC exam in 2019-20 with accelerated instruction in the 2020-21 school year? (8/20/20)
  4. What about required parent notification for students at risk of failure? (8/20/20)
  5. Will there be any tests available for the 2020-21 school year to assess student understanding of the TEKS from the previous school year? (9/16/20)
  6. Is there guidance on reading diagnostic instruments for 2020-21 school year, including waivers? (8/20/20)
  7. Will there be an extended testing window for the STAAR and STAAR Alternate 2 exam for the 2020-21 school year? (updated 1/21/21)
  8. How is STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, TELPAS, or TELPAS Alternate testing handled for students receiving remote instruction? (updated 1/21/21)
  9. How should we handle students who are required to quarantine during the STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, TELPAS or TELPAS Alternate testing window? (11/6/20)
  10. Does my district have the ability to require students who are not scheduled to take an assessment to learn remotely on testing days to ensure social distancing on campuses during test administration? (1/21/21)
  11. What about an extension for STAAR or STAAR Alternate testing for students who cannot access the online exam due to a required accommodation? (8/20/20)
  12. Will the TELPAS and TELPAS Alternate test administration windows also be extended? (updated 1/21/21) 
  13. Has TEA provided guidance on TELPAS raters? (1/21/21)
  14. How many testing opportunities during the STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, and TELPAS online testing windows do districts need to offer students? (1/21/21)
  15. Is there guidance for credit by examination? (updated 1/21/21)
  16. Has TEA provided guidance on grading? (8/20/20)
  17. Are students required to be tested under the physical fitness assessment? (2/16/21)
  18. Does TEA have guidance for how to administer the physical fitness assessment components in a remote setting? (2/16/21)
  19. How do we maintain social distancing while conducting the physical fitness assessments on campus? (2/16/21)
  20. What about AP and IB classes and exams? (8/20/20)
  21. What about college preparation assessments, including the SAT/ACT, and Texas Success Initiative Assessment examinations? (updated 9/28/20)
  22. What options are available for graduating and rising seniors who have been negatively impacted in the ability to demonstrate college readiness by COVID-19? (8/20/20)

The answers to questions we've compiled do not constitute legal advice. The situation is changing rapidly, and key factors will differ from school district to school district. This information will be updated as new details emerge, but we encourage TCTA members with specific questions to call our staff attorneys at 888-879-8282. Members with general inquiries can submit them through the Ask-a-Lawyer portal.

For more COVID-19 FAQs about 2020-21, click here

Student Issues

Are schools still required to provide hands-on CPR instruction to students this school year given remote instruction and social distancing requirements?

State law requires that the CPR instruction use “nationally recognized, evidence-based guidelines for emergency cardiovascular care and incorporate psychomotor skills to support the instruction.” Districts and charter schools that offer the required CPR instruction virtually must ensure they meet the statutory requirements. There is no specific requirement that students demonstrate proficiency in compression and breathing skills so schools are not required to have students report to school to demonstrate these skills. Schools are encouraged to work with parents on reasonable solutions to address safety concerns. Since students must receive the required CPR instruction at least once between seventh grade and the time they graduate from high school, a district has the option to defer the CPR instruction for students who are not yet seniors to a future school year.

If seniors in 2020-21 have not received the required instruction in CPR, a school district may request a waiver of the requirement from the commissioner.

Are districts required to continue identifying gifted/talented students during school closures due to COVID-19?

According to TEA’s April 14 Gifted/Talented Guidance, the requirement to administer new assessments for G/T identification is waived for spring 2020. To minimize disrupted access to G/T services for those students who have not completed the identification process TEA recommends that districts complete the following steps:

  • Document where you were in the identification process upon the closure of your LEA.
  • Identify which assessments have been administered to students and maintain the results to facilitate future identification.
  • Determine which students can move to the selection process and which need further assessments.
  • Develop a plan for students that will need further assessment for the fall of 2020.

Are school districts required to continue the selection process for GT placement?

According to TEA’s April 14 Gifted/Talented Guidance, school districts should determine when and how to finalize the selection process for students whose assessments have been administered and resume assessment in the fall of 2020. School districts should develop a plan to conduct virtual G/T selection meetings if moving forward with the post-assessment selection process. Documentation must maintain student confidentially and ensure security of the data from tampering or accidental deletion. Here are a few examples of properly securing data:

  • Excel documents: Lock the cells, columns or spreadsheets containing confidential or important information.
  • Word documents: Convert documents to fillable PDFs with electronic signatures.

How do we document what we are providing in terms of G/T services for students?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 GT Guidance (8/24/20), G/T staff should document the services provided to the student, such as student packets, lesson plans, online learning platforms, and G/T teacher and student contact time via phone or online. Calculate the estimated time to complete the activities and use that estimation for determination of service time or implement a student log sheet for time worked. G/T teachers should maintain a log of services provided to students (State Plan 2.29, 4.1, 4.2 and 4.9 Texas G/T State Plan 2019).

Can districts require in-person testing on school or non-school days?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 GT Guidance (8/24/20), if or when a student is referred for G/T identification, a school district cannot require in-person G/T testing only. A school district must offer virtual identification process or in-person testing at select district sites to accommodate the student population and offer them on non-school days. School districts should publicize all testing options available to students to parents and the community.

The Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students allows for assessment modifications for student exceptionalities (Section 2.17). During COVID-19, can TEA clarify that remote learning constitutes a student exceptionality for the purposes of identifying students and providing assessment modifications?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 GT Guidance (8/24/20), remote learning is not a student exceptionality. School districts may modify the assessment process for remote learning. School districts are to provide the same accommodations and modifications through remote instruction.

Has TEA provided guidance for discipline and dress code for students in a virtual learning environment?

Yes. In a Virtual Discipline and Dress Code document, TEA notes that the Chapter 37 Discipline Chart published online by TASB School Law eSource is designed to assist school officials in determining the appropriate disciplinary responses to student misconduct both on and off campus. The chart is based on the requirements of Texas Education Code Chapter 37 and common provisions of districts’ local student codes of conduct. 

In addition, teachers could consider restricting access to large group instruction and increasing individualized instruction for students who are unable to maintain appropriate conduct in the larger group setting.

Beyond that, teachers can use tools to block students from projecting video to the group.

Considerations should be made for overriding a user's ability to share screens, to mute user audio, and to stop user video from being accessed by other participants.

LEAs and teachers should consider tools and software that allow the recording of sessions. Teachers should review LEA record storage requirements and public information request (PIR) guidelines.

Regarding discipline for special education students, TEA notes that if an LEA determines that denial of access will be a step in progressive discipline for students, FAPE implications for students with disabilities must be considered. For example, should denial of access be in excess of 10 days for a student with a disability, additional steps are likely warranted. Refer to the IDEA discipline legal framework for additional guidance. 

Finally, TEA provides guidance from other states regarding this issue:

From the Keystone School:

“Enforcement. We may, but do not have to, review User Content, and investigate and/or act against you in our sole determination if you violate the Acceptable Use Policy below or your school’s student code of conduct or any other provision of these Terms or otherwise create liability for us or any person. Such action may include 1) removing or changing your User Content, 2) restricting your Account, 3) reporting you to your school for violations of the school’s code of conduct and/or reporting you to law enforcement or other authorities.”

From the Virtual School Handbook:

“Violations of the Lakeview Student Network and Internet Access Agreement will be addressed by administration and may also include the notification of the St. Clair Shores Police Department. Depending upon the severity of the violation, administration will exercise discretion as to the consequence assigned to a student, which may include removal from the LVS seat-time waiver program. Violations of this policy may result in loss of credit for the assignment, unit, and /or course based upon the severity of the offense.”

TEA says if the district or campus has an existing dress code, for continuity of the expectation that “school is school” regardless of the location, maintaining the existing dress code should be considered.

What procedures apply if a district wants to place a student into a DAEP?

According to TEA's April 3 Discipline FAQ, if a district would like to place a student into a DAEP, the student still has the same due process rights laid out in TEC Section 37.009(a)-(e), which requires not later than the third class day after the day on which a student is removed from class ... the campus behavior coordinator or other appropriate administrator shall schedule a conference among the campus behavior coordinator or other appropriate administrator, a parent or guardian of the student, the teacher removing the student from class, if any, and the student. At the conference, the student is entitled to written or oral notice of the reasons for the removal, an explanation of the basis for the removal, and an opportunity to respond to the reasons for the removal. These requirements could be met online using Zoom, Skype, etc.

Regarding discipline for special education students, TEA notes that if a school district determines that denial of access will be a step in progressive discipline for students, FAPE implications for students with disabilities must be considered. For example, should denial of access be in excess of 10 days for a student with a disability, additional steps are likely warranted. Refer to the IDEA discipline legal framework for additional guidance. 

Is it possible to dismantle our DAEP for the first semester?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20),a district may not dismantle its DAEP because DAEP placement for a student is mandatory for certain behaviors outlined in TEC, Chapter 37, as well as, for students engaging in certain expellable offenses who are younger than 10 years of age that may not be expelled according to TEC §37.007(h). Determination of instructional method used with a student in the DAEP setting shall be determined during the DAEP assignment conference and students placed in a DAEP must be offered the same instructional methods offered to students not in DAEP.

Are students in DAEPs eligible for remote learning?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20), Texas Education Code Section 37.008(a) sets forth the requirements for a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, and to the extent the district determines its remote learning program satisfies the educational needs of students and the other requirements of TEC, Section 37.008(a), the district may credit the DAEP student for participation via remote learning.

How should the instructional methods be decided upon for students assigned to a DAEP?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20), determination of instructional method used with a student in the DAEP setting shall be determined during the DAEP assignment conference. Students placed in a DAEP must be offered the same instructional methods offered to students not in DAEP. If a student receiving on-campus instruction is assigned to a DAEP, it is presumed the student will continue to receive instruction through an on-campus DAEP setting. If a student receiving remote instruction (synchronous or asynchronous) is assigned to a DAEP, it is presumed the student will continue to receive instruction through the remote DAEP setting. A request by a parent or guardian of the student to be moved to a different instructional method during a DAEP assignment should be considered by the district on a case by case basis with due regard given to current conditions. The district cannot require the student assigned to a DAEP to receive instruction through a particular method unless directed by the court as a condition of the student’s supervision.

Is it acceptable to have regular instructional teachers facilitate students in the remote DAEP settings as opposed to having a designated DAEP teacher?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20), the remote DAEP setting (synchronous or asynchronous) should be facilitated or supervised by the designated DAEP teacher or teachers.

In remote settings, must a district continue to separate elementary and secondary students for DAEP classrooms?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20), a district must continue to uphold the separation of elementary and secondary students for DAEP classrooms in the remote settings.

What about teaching DAEP students in the same classroom as non-DAEP students?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20), the students assigned to DAEP setting should not be taught in the same classroom with non-DAEP students unless the student must attend a class remotely to fulfill graduation requirements or access an appropriately certified teacher.

Additionally, districts that have limited capacity or supply of teachers with specialty certifications or expertise on DAEP campuses, may use remote and virtual learning options to facilitate access to instruction. Examples of these types of highly specialized courses or difficult to fill teacher certifications positions that maybe limited on a DAEP campus include electives like sports medicine, languages other than English, ceramics, robotics, culinary arts, as well as advanced coursework like AP Psychology or AP Chemistry. The students assigned to the asynchronous DAEP may have their assignments graded by the regular instructional teacher.

What is the length-of-day requirements for the synchronous and asynchronous DAEP settings?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20), although normally, Title 19, Texas Administrative Code (TAC), §103.1201(f)(2), requires the school day for a DAEP to be at least seven hours but no more than ten hours in length each day, the Commissioner has waived this requirement, subject to the following: For all forms of instruction, whether in-person or remote (synchronous or asynchronous), length-of-day requirements for a student placed in a DAEP should mirror the hourly instructional requirements applicable to the student prior to the student’s removal and placement in the DAEP.

What about class sizes in DAEPs?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20), Texas law also requires a DAEP to maintain a 15-to-1 student to teacher ratio. A district may apply for a waiver of this provision if the district is able to show good cause for why an alternative student to teacher ratio would be beneficial to the operations of the district and its students.

Are districts required to provide the same mental health supports to students in a remote DAEP as they are in an on-campus DAEP? 

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20), when serving DAEP students remotely, districts must continue to implement the same requirements for providing mental health supports to students, including those requiring staff training regarding positive and proactive behavior management strategies, prevention/intervention strategies in social and problem-solving skills, and reporting abuse, neglect or exploitation of students.  Additionally, districts must maintain a DAEP program that provides for students' educational and behavioral needs and provides supervision and counseling.

Are students placed into in-school suspension (ISS) eligible for remote learning?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Discipline Guidance (updated 8/13/20), students placed in ISS are eligible for remote learning as these students continue to receive instruction in a temporary placement.

Are districts and charter schools still required to provide early notice to parents or guardians of grade 4 and grade 7 students identified to be at risk of failure on the first administration of the assessment required for grade advancement next year?

Yes, per TEA’s Assessment Guidance the superintendent must establish the instruments and procedures to be used to make this determination. If a district or charter school does not have sufficient information to make a determination about a student’s risk of failure, the school district or charter should request a waiver of the requirement from the commissioner. Instructions for submitting a waiver request can be found on the Instructions for Submitting a Waiver for the Early Notice to Parents or Guardians Requirement document on the TEA COVID-19 webpage.

Are there resources on behavioral support services?

TEA has provided a list of Mental & Behavioral Health Grief & Trauma Informed Virtual Support and Statewide Resources that can help schools connect families with specific resources as needs are identified. It is important for school districts to recognize students and families may be struggling with stress, anxiety, grief and loss. Schools can support the mental health, wellness and resiliency of students through trauma informed approaches.

Has TEA provided guidance for pregnancy-related services?

According to TEA's Pregnancy Related Services (April 14), school districts should provide support services for students participating in pregnancy related services through their online learning programs. Examples of virtual support services include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Virtual wellness checks and regular communication to pregnant and parenting students by a school counselor or school nurse.
  • School social worker or at-risk case managers providing social, emotional, and mental health guidance and referring students to social services virtually.
  • Virtual instruction related to parenting knowledge and skills, including child development, home, and family living.
  • Virtual service coordination and assistance with obtaining services from government agencies and community services organizations, for example: Women, Infants and Children (WIC) offices.

According to TEA, a school district should prioritize the health and safety of students, babies and staff members in all decisions regarding service provisions. Examples of additional educational services include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Teachers virtually assisting Compensatory Education Home Instruction students with online lessons.
  • Teachers virtually providing tutoring as needed.

Student Testing

Are students required to take the STAAR exam or other statewide exams for the 2020-21 school year?

Per TEA, state assessments will continue this school year through the administrations of STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, TELPAS, and TELPAS Alternate because it remains critical that parents, educators and policymakers understand the impact of the pandemic on student learning. However, A-F ratings will be paused for the 2020-21 school year due to the ongoing disruptions associated with COVID-19.

According to TEA’s Spring 2021 Assessment Guidance (updated 1/14/21), the tests will be administered on school campuses or at other secure alternative testing sites to ensure the results remain valid and reliable.

TEA is requiring all students, even those who have been learning remotely, to be present at a monitored testing session and to be supervised by a trained test administrator.

For those schools that incorporate STAAR results into teacher evaluations, TEA is providing flexibility to allow them to remove that component this school year.  

Is the student success initiative requiring students in 5th and 8th grade to pass the math and reading STAAR exams in effect in the 2020-21 school year?

According to a July 27 letter, the commissioner of education waived the requirements of TEC, Section 28.0211 regarding grade promotion requirements for students in fifth and eighth grade for the 2020–2021 school year. 

School districts and open-enrollment charter schools are not required to apply for a waiver of these SSI requirements. 

According to TEA, students enrolled in grades 5 and 8 are still required to take the appropriate State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests once. Regardless of their score, retest opportunities will not be provided. Districts will have local discretion on whether these students should advance to the next grade, just like students in grades 3, 4, 6 and 7. These decisions should be based on local criteria that reflect a student’s academic achievement and mastery of subject matter, and should include STAAR assessment results, along with other relevant information. Districts are still responsible for providing accelerated instruction and supports for students that fail to perform satisfactorily on STAAR. Furthermore, although students in grades 5 and 8 will not be retained solely on the basis of STAAR results, school districts and open-enrollment charter schools will remain accountable for student performance. 

As a part of the waiver, there will only be one administration of the STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics and reading assessments for the 2020-21 school year. This administration will be in May to coincide with the administration of other STAAR grades 3–8 assessments. 

Is a district required to provide students failing the EOC exam in 2019-20 with accelerated instruction in the 2020-21 school year?

According to TEA’s Grading Guidance and FAQ (updated 5/12/20), for a student, including a student who receives special education services, who failed to perform satisfactorily on a STAAR end-of-course (EOC) assessment in the 2019-20 school year, a school district is required to provide to the student accelerated instruction. While accelerated instruction does not have to be provided currently during the 2019-20 school year, a district has a legal requirement to provide accelerated instruction prior to the next STAAR EOC administration during the 2020-21 school year.

What about required parent notification for students at risk of failure?

Although Student Success Initiative (SSI) promotion/retention requirements found in the Texas Education Code §28.0211 are waived in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, school districts and open-enrollment charter schools are still required to provide early notice to parents or guardians of students in grades 4 and 7 identified to be at risk of failure on the first administration of an assessment required for grade advancement in the next school year. Under Texas Administrative Code §101.2009, the superintendent must establish the instruments and procedures to be used to determination which students are at-risk. Given that the spring 2020 STAAR administrations were canceled, the at-risk determination will need to be made through means that do not involve state testing results from the current year. The current rule requires this notice to be issued before the end of a school year. If a district or charter school is not able to or does not have sufficient information to make a determination about a student’s risk of failure at this time, the school district or charter should request a waiver to delay the notice requirement from the commissioner until the start of the 20-21 school year.

Will there be any tests available for the 2020-21 school year to assess student understanding of the TEKS from the previous school year?

TEA has developed optional Beginning of Year assessments for use by school districts and parents at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year that are designed to diagnose understanding of the TEKS from the previous school year. According to TEA’s BOY Assessment Webinar, the tests should be administered to students based on their prior year enrolled grade level and are intended to support district and educator analysis of student progress.

According to TEA's Guidance on Optional Beginning of Year Assessments FAQ (5/19/20), the BOY assessments have been built using released STAAR test questions that measure the TEKS and cover the same grades/subjects covered by STAAR. Therefore, the student performance data is not intended to be used for purposes such as accountability, staff performance or compensation measures.

The optional BOY assessments will be available online and in paper (through a printable PDF) and preregistration is required. The registration window for districts opened July 20 and closes Oct. 9. Tests will be administered July 27 through Oct. 16. Click here for more information.

Is there guidance on reading diagnostic instruments for 2020-21 school year, including waivers?

In TEA’s Reading Diagnostic Instruments Guidance (updated 6/4/20), the agency has outlined reading diagnostic instruments that may be used and waiver options available for the 2020-21 school year.

Kindergarten

TEC, §28.006(b) requires the commissioner to adopt a multidimensional assessment tool that includes a reading instrument and tests at least three developmental skills, including literacy, for use in diagnosing the reading development and comprehension of kindergarten students.

The commissioner has adopted TX-KEA (CLI). He has also approved mCLASS Texas Edition (Amplify) as the alternative reading instrument.

For more detailed information about the two approved kindergarten instruments, click here.

Grades 1 and 2

TEC, §28.006(b-1) requires each school district to administer, at the first and second grade levels, a reading instrument on the list adopted by the commissioner or by a district-level committee. Free options that are available for the 2020-21 school year include:

  • mCLASS Texas Edition (Amplify)
  • Fastbridge earlyReading (Illuminate Education)
  • CBMreading (Illuminate Education)
  • TPRI/Tejas Lee

To assist early childhood educators, TEA created a website, Data Driven Instruction in Early Childhood, that currently defines data collection requirements for prekindergarten through second grade. It also provides links to free tools and information to help decide what tool(s) will work best for each school district. Over time, this section will grow to include guidance on tool selection, best practices for using data to inform instruction, and family engagement partnerships to support each child. 

Grade 7

TEC, §28.006(c-1) requires each school district to administer at the beginning of the seventh grade a reading instrument adopted by the commissioner to each student whose performance on the grade 6 STAAR reading assessment did not demonstrate reading proficiency. The commissioner has adopted the following:

  • Istation’s Indicators of Progress, Advanced Reading (ISIP-AR)
  • Reading Analysis and Prescription System (RAPS 360)
  • Texas Middle School Fluency Assessment (TMFSA)
  • Woodcock Johnson III Diagnostic Reading Battery (WJ III DRB) LEAs are required to use one of these reading diagnostic instruments. However, because of disruptions to the 2019-20 school year and possible disruptions to the 2020-21 school year resulting from COVID-19, districts may request a waiver in order to use another instrument approved by a local district board of trustees in order to best meet student needs in the 2020-21 school year only. A waiver of the requirement to use an adopted instrument will only be approved for one year and will not be waived in the 2021-22 school year and beyond.

Waiver Guidance

A district may choose one of the following three options: (A) Request a waiver to use an alternate district-selected kindergarten reading instrument and an alternate district-selected seventh grade reading instrument (B) Request a waiver to use an alternate district-selected kindergarten reading instrument only (C) Request a waiver to use an alternate district-selected seventh grade reading instrument only. 

A waiver of the requirement to use one of the two kindergarten specified instruments will only be approved for one year and will not be waived in the 2021-22 school year and beyond.

Will there be an extended testing window for the STAAR and STAAR Alternate 2 exam for the 2020-21 school year?

According to TEA’s Online Testing Window Extensions for 20-21 guidance (updated 6/16/20), there is an optional extended online testing window for STAAR and STAAR Alternate 2 for the 2020-21 school year.

The extended online testing window for both STAAR 3-8 and EOC assessments is as follows:

  • two weeks for the December 2020 STAAR EOC assessments (December 8–18),
  • five weeks for the April 2021 STAAR grades 3–8 and EOC assessments (April 6–May 7),
  • five weeks for the May 2021 STAAR EOC assessments (May 4–June 4),
  • five weeks for the May 2021 STAAR grades 3–8 assessments (May 11–June 11), and
  • two weeks for the June 2021 STAAR grades 3–8 and EOC assessments (June 22–July 2).

The STAAR Alternate 2 testing window has been extended to include:

  • a two-week preview window (March 15–26) and
  • a six-week test administration window (March 29–May 7).

Districts can schedule STAAR math, reading, science, and social studies tests on any school day during the optional, extended, online testing window. However, due to test security issues, tests with writing components do not have the same flexibility, and although STAAR grade 4 writing, grade 7 writing, English I, and English II are included in the five-week online testing window extension, they have been assigned designated days within each week of the extension.

A district that chooses the optional online testing window extension will need to ensure that sufficient time is provided between administrations for required remediation or accelerated instruction. (This includes re-testers for STAAR grades 5 and 8 math and reading and STAAR EOC assessments.)

According to TEA’s Spring 2021 Assessment Guidance (updated 1/14/21), TEA is not able to extend STAAR paper testing windows because of the time required to ship, process and score paper testing materials and maintain reporting dates. If a district cannot follow the current one-day paper administration for STAAR while following appropriate public health protocols, then it will need to administer some of these assessments online during the extended testing window.

Districts should plan their test administrations based on the allowed testing dates provided in the TEA Testing Calendar. For students who do not test during the district scheduled assessment day, districts may offer additional testing days within the allowed testing window to ensure students have an opportunity to test. Additional testing days are optional and at the discretion of the district.

How is STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, TELPA or TELPAS Alternate testing handled for students receiving remote instruction?

Per TEA’s Spring 2021 Assessment Guidance (1/14/21), for spring and summer 2021 administration windows for STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, TELPAS online assessments (grades 2–12 listening, speaking, and reading), a student must be present at a monitored testing session and must be supervised by a trained test administrator. Most administrations for the 2020–21 school year have been extended to give districts more flexibility in scheduling assessments. Districts should continue to follow appropriate public health protocols during any administration.

For any eligible student receiving remote instruction who does not go to the campus or designated testing site to take a STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, or TELPAS online assessment in spring 2021, the district should indicate “O” for other in the SCORE CODE field. TEA added that if these students are scheduled to take end-of-course assessments for STAAR or STAAR Alternate 2, they will miss an opportunity to meet graduation requirements, and English Learners will miss an opportunity to potentially be reclassified as English proficient.

TELPAS holistic assessments (K –1 and 2 –12 writing) and TELPAS Alternate: Teachers must provide multiple opportunities throughout the assessment window for students to demonstrate their level of English language proficiency. This can be done remotely as long as raters gather sufficient information to designate an accurate rating. If permitted, districts must determine locally if electronic tools (e.g., text, email, video conferencing software, etc.) will be allowed to complete the holistic rating process. Districts must ensure that the holistic rating process is valid and that FERPA regulations are maintained.

TELPAS writing samples may be collected for students who are receiving remote instruction and should reflect authentic classroom instruction, and that includes remote or digital learning in the current environment.

How should we handle students who are required to quarantine during the STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, TELPAS, or TELPAS Alternate testing window?

Per TEA’s SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ (updated 1/14/21), if a student is not able to take an assessment during the allowable testing window due to COVID-19 quarantine, then the student's test should be marked "A" for absent. There are extended testing windows this year to help reduce the likelihood that this situation occurs. For STAAR assessments only, the district may request a medical exclusion (for the district participation rate) at the end of the testing window.

Does my district have the ability to require students who are not scheduled to take an assessment to learn remotely on testing days to ensure social distancing on campuses during test administration?

For specific assessments, including STAAR, TELPAS online assessments, and certain college readiness assessments (SAT, PSAT, ACT, ACT Aspire, and TSIA), if a district cannot assess all students during the district-scheduled assessment days and comply with local health protocols, the district can submit a waiver to require students who are not scheduled to take that assessment to learn remotely on a scheduled testing day.

This does not apply to STAAR Alternate 2 or TELPAS Alternate, which have six- and seven-week testing windows, respectfully, and involve individualized administration protocols.

These waivers are intended to allow school systems to establish a less-than-daily on-campus attendance schedule as the sole offering for students in one or more campuses of the district in order to reduce the number of individuals on a campus at any one time and increase the total number of students served in an on-campus setting in the district on testing days. This should be limited to a maximum of five days per administration. All waivers will be conditionally approved upon receipt but may be subject to further review by TEA. In the event one of these testing days has already occurred, waivers can be submitted now and approvals can be granted retroactively.

Please see the Spring 2021 State Assessment Guidance for additional information.

What about an extension for STAAR or STAAR Alternate testing for students who cannot access the online exam due to a required accommodation?

Students who cannot access the online test because of a required accommodation (e.g., a Braille administration or an approved paper administration of STAAR with embedded supports) may also receive the flexibility associated with the testing window extension. In its Online Testing Window Extensions for 20-21 guidance (updated 6/16/20), TEA noted that more information regarding return dates for scoreable materials for these cases will be provided soon. 

Will the TELPAS and TELPAS Alternate test administration windows also be extended?

TELPAS: The testing window for TELPAS online grades 2–12 reading has been extended by one week for a total of eight weeks (Feb. 22–April 9). The testing window for the remaining TELPAS tests is seven weeks (Feb. 22–April 2).

TELPAS Alternate: The testing window for TELPAS Alternate has been extended by one week for a total of seven weeks (Feb. 22–April 9).

TEA is looking at a potential extension to the TELPAS and TELPAS Alternate testing windows. More information will be provided soon.

Has TEA provided guidance on TELPAS raters?

Per TEA’s SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ (updated 1/14/21), TELPAS online basic training may be completed in a remote setting and should be completed independently. Completion of the online basic training is required for new raters and for raters who have not completed calibration activities within the last three years. This course is divided into modules so that it can be completed in more than one sitting, if necessary.

Due to the state’s current health situation, the agency is allowing districts the option to conduct monitored calibration activities in a virtual or remote setting (e.g., Zoom, TEAMS meeting, Google Meet, etc.). Calibration must still be completed in one sitting and be monitored by a proctor. A district, at their discretion, may require face-to-face monitored calibration activities. However, they must still adhere to appropriate public health protocols. Individuals are not authorized to serve as TELPAS raters until they complete the state-required training and calibration activities.

Calibration proctors must be able to view all participants in a session on one screen as they complete their calibration activity. Participants should remain in the proctor’s view at all times. A calibration proctor may not have a session with breakout groups and should not need to scroll to see all the participants at one time. In addition, the chat or message feature should be disabled since raters are required to calibrate independently.

How many testing opportunities during the STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2, and TELPAS online testing windows do districts need to offer students?

Per TEA’s SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ (updated 1/14/21), districts should plan their test administrations based on the allowed testing dates provided in the TEA Testing Calendar. For students who do not test during the district scheduled assessment day, districts may offer additional testing days within the allowed testing window to ensure students have an opportunity to test. Additional testing days are optional and at the discretion of the district.

Is there guidance for credit by examination?

According to TEA’s Grading Guidance and FAQ (updated 5/12/20), a school district must provide at least one window to test between Jan. 1 and March 31, one window to test between April 1 and June 30, one window to test between July 1 and Sept. 30, and one window to test between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. These requirements remain in place. For the April 1-June 30 window, districts may want to plan to offer credit by exam at the end of the window to allow sufficient time to determine what options they will be able to make available. Please note that Texas Tech University offers online proctored CBEs for a fee. Click here for more information. The University of Texas at Austin High School expects to begin offering online proctoring for CBEs for a fee in May. Click here for more information.

Has TEA provided guidance on grading?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ (8/13/20), in order for a school district to receive funding for remote instruction, the school district’s grading policies for remote instruction must be consistent with the school district’s grading policies for on campus assignments. Additionally, according to TEA, a school district cannot opt to move students from a letter grading system to a pass/fail basis because they are participating in remote asynchronous learning and still receive funding.

Additionally, state law requires each district adopt its own grading policy. A district policy

  • must require a classroom teacher to assign a grade that reflects the student's relative mastery of an assignment;
  • may not require a classroom teacher to assign a minimum grade for an assignment without regard to the student's quality of work; and
  • is permitted, but not required to allow a student a reasonable opportunity to make up or redo a class assignment or examination for which the student received a failing grade.

Are students required to be tested under the physical fitness assessment?

State law requires school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to annually assess the physical fitness of students in grades three and higher who are enrolled in a physical education course or substitute activity. The physical fitness assessment requirement applies to all students whether they are receiving instruction remotely or in person. TEA has extended the deadline to submit physical fitness assessment data to Aug. 13, 2021, to permit districts and charter schools additional time to gather and report the data.

The governor suspended physical fitness assessment requirements in TEC §38.101-§38.103 only for the 2019-20 academic year. Any further suspension of existing statutes would require action by the Texas Legislature. Pending action by the legislature related to the requirements, school districts and open-enrollment charter schools should plan accordingly to meet the physical fitness assessment requirements for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Does TEA have guidance for how to administer the physical fitness assessment components in a remote setting?

There is nothing in law or rule that limits the location of the physical fitness assessment or that guides who may administer the assessment. Consequently, school districts have the authority to determine where physical fitness assessments will occur, including using remote options. Local districts and schools may determine that some or all of the assessment components may be assessed remotely. Schools are encouraged to provide detailed guidance to parents for how to conduct each component safely in a remote setting. Schools implementing remote instruction when they would normally conduct physical fitness testing may wish to conduct some components of the physical fitness assessment in a virtual setting, and then complete the rest upon return to in-person instruction. If not all components are completed during the school year, schools should still report the data they have available for each student. For additional information on the six components of the physical fitness assessment, see the Physical Fitness Assessment Initiative Testing Information and Standards.

How do we maintain social distancing while conducting the physical fitness assessments on campus?

Most of the components permit the student and the individual administering the assessment to maintain six feet of distance. Teachers may need to implement solutions that permit them to measure some components from a distance. If a district or school determines that not all components can be safely completed during the school year, schools should still report the data they have available for each student by the deadline.

What about AP and IB classes and exams?

2020-2021 AP/IB Exams Registration information for ordering 2021 exams is available on the College Board AP Central and IBO websites. Due to this year’s unusual circumstances, the College Board will not apply the $40 unused/canceled exam fee for AP exams ordered. Students who order AP exams before Nov. 17 will have until exam day to make the decision to test with no penalties. Click here to learn more about AP exam costs, fees, and subsidies.

HB 3 IBC Reimbursements: Districts are eligible for reimbursements for IBCs earned from Sept. 1, 2019 through Aug. 31, 2020. IBCs earned from Sept. 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020, will be reported in Summer Submission 3. IBCs earned from June 1-Aug. 31, 2020, will be reported in Fall Submission 1. TEA has released an IBC reimbursement FAQ and will provide additional guidance as it becomes available.

What about college preparation assessments, including the SAT/ACT, and Texas Success Initiative Assessment examinations?

SAT

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 College Prep Assessments (8/13/20), students who registered for canceled March, May or June tests will receive refunds. Click here for more information.

According to the College Board, if it’s safe from a public health standpoint, it will provide weekend SAT administrations on Nov. 7, Dec. 5, March 13, May 8 and June 15. Registration is open for the 2020-21 school year. Eligible students can register with a fee waiver.

For each administration, the College Board is preparing to significantly expand the capacity for students. The College Board is calling on member schools and colleges, as well as local communities, to provide additional test center capacity so every student who wants to take the SAT can do so.

ACT

ACT, Inc. has several administrations in fall 2020, including Oct. 10, 17, 24 and 25, and Dec. 12. Registration opened at the end of July. ACT has also revised its fee waiver policy to allow for four fee waivers and unlimited free score reports for qualifying students. Lastly, ACT will launch online testing in fall 2020 for designated testing centers, in which students can receive test results in as little as two business days.

SAT/ACT School Day/District Testing

The College Board added administrations on Oct. 14, March 3 and 24, April 13 and 27. The PSAT/NMSQT administration is on Oct. 14, 17, 29 and Jan. 26. This permits districts and campuses to split their students across test dates for the SAT school day and the PSAT/NMSQT. Lastly, to expand testing capacity available to students, districts and campuses will be able to test at any offsite location without submitting a plan for administration.

Registration already closed for ACT's fall 2020 test dates, but its spring 2021 district testing administrations are on March 2, March 30, and April 20-22, 27-29.

SAT/ACT Remote Testing

The College Board will not offer an at-home SAT administration at this time and has not released future plans to do so.

ACT will offer at-home ACT administrations for late fall/winter 2020 as part of its national testing program

Both vendors are assessing the impact on school day/district test administrations. Please check with your district and College Board/ACT representatives and websites for updates. 

Resources

TEA encourages students, parents and educators to utilize each vendor’s free K-12 resource, Khan Academy & ACT Academy, to support remote learning, preparation and instruction.

Additionally, ACT is providing free digital learning and workforce resources to assist students, teachers, schools, and workers impacted by COVID-19. Additional details can be found on their COVID-19 website. The most current information regarding SAT administrations can be found on their SAT Coronavirus Updates website.

Texas Success Initiative Assessment - Remote Testing

For all TSIA 1.0 testing, Examity has been approved as online testing services. Online testing services may have a proctor fee associated with testing. Check with the testing services for proctor fees. Additionally, test centers are approved to use video chat services (Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, MS Teams, etc.) for TSIA test administration for ISDs. The THECB is recommending that administrators review local policy on usage of these services and comply with the following to ensure the validity of test administrations:

  • Only TSIA-certified proctors
  • Maximum of five administrations per proctor
  • Strict adherence to all ACTA test certification requirements
  • Adherence to security and other practices as outlined in the TSIA/Accuplacer platform located under the resource tab

TSIA2

The College Board is working to reschedule TSIA2 information sessions and TSIA proctor certification training as well as exploring alternative delivery methods.

HB 3 College Preparation Assessment Reimbursements

SAT/ACT: TEA recognizes that many students’ plans to take the SAT and/or the ACT have been postponed until the summer or fall administrations. Considering this rapidly evolving situation, TEA is expanding the college preparation assessment reimbursements to include summer 2020 testing administrations.

TSIA: Districts may request TSIA reimbursement via the online application which is now open. The application closes on Sept. 18. For the 2019-20 school year, TEA will reimburse districts for both the TSIA test fee and eligible proctor fees.

Reimbursement Eligibility

  • Seniors who take either the SAT, ACT, or TSIA from Sept. 1, 2019, to Aug. 31, 2020, are eligible for reimbursement.
  • Juniors who take either the SAT, ACT, or TSIA from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2020, are eligible for reimbursement.

As a reminder, college preparation assessment reimbursements will go to the district for the cost of one assessment per student. TEA will reimburse the highest cost exam. As new information becomes available, an updated FAQ with additional guidance will be posted on the College Preparation Assessment Reimbursement webpage.

What options are available for graduating and rising seniors who have been negatively impacted in the ability to demonstrate college readiness by COVID-19?

COVID-19 has negatively impacted college readiness for graduating and rising seniors due to:

  • ACT, SAT and TSIA were not available for students to test
  • Students may not have finished college prep courses given limited ability to deliver remote instruction
  • Changing college requirements

According to TEA’s Texas College Bridge Overview, the Texas College Bridge website makes available to districts and students a free, online college preparatory courses for their seniors who have not yet demonstrated college readiness in ELAR and/or math on the ACT, SAT or TSIA. It provides students with a self-paced, competency-based, on-line course, with a teacher to provide support, and with evidence of validity and personalized math and/or English learning. For districts, it demonstrates college readiness if public school districts and institutions of higher learning sign a memorandum of understanding; and improves district A-F accountability ratings for 2020-21 (and beyond).TEA is working to allow data reporting for this year's graduates who demonstrate college readiness through this college prep class through Aug. 31.

Texas College Bridge also provides online College Readiness Curriculum; competency based, aligned to ACT, SAT, and TSI college ready benchmarks; online student advising and supports; and student resources and advisor training.

Texas College Bridge Phases include:

  • Summer 2020 Phase 1: Graduating/rising seniors who have not demonstrated a CCMR measure (ACT, SAT,TSIA, College Prep course etc.)
  • Fall and Spring 2020-2021 Phase 2: Seniors who are taking HB 5 College Prep Courses
  • Summer 2021 Phase 3: Graduating/rising seniors who have not demonstrated a CCMR measure (ACT, SAT,TSIA, College Prep course etc.)

Districts may visit www.texascollegebridge.org for detailed information and to complete the Texas College Bridge participant application.