This page was updated on July 9, 2020.

  1. What resources has the commissioner provided? (posted 3/20/20, resources added 4/6/20)
  2. Are there any resources by region? (posted 4/2/20)
  3. Will the Reading Academies schedule be impacted? (posted 3/30/20)

Student issues

  1. Are districts required to continue identifying gifted/talented students during school closures due to COVID-19? (posted 4/16/20)
  2. Are school districts required to continue the selection process for GT placement? (posted 4/16/20)
  3. Has TEA provided guidance for discipline and dress code for students in a virtual learning environment? (posted 4/2/20)
  4. Will students with outstanding (incomplete) MANDATORY discipline actions be required to fulfill them? (posted 5/6/20)
  5. Has TEA provided guidance for DAEP students? (posted 5/6/20)
  6. Must students meet the 90% attendance rule in order to pass a class this semester? (posted 3/20/20)
  7. What about tracking student attendance while students are receiving remote instruction during school closures? (posted 4/1/20)
  8. What about student assessment/grade level promotion/graduation requirements? (posted 3/20/20; updated 7/9/20) NOTE: This question contains information about TELPAS, STAAR, progress monitoring, parent notificationreading diagnosticsstudent assessments, extended testing windows, and graduation requirements and graduation ceremonies.
  9. Has TEA provided guidance on grading? (posted 4/22/20)
  10. If school districts changed their grading system to pass/fail, how will school districts comply with progress reporting requirements for students with IEPs? (posted 4/8/20)
  11. What about AP classes and exams? (posted 3/24/20; updated 4/8/20)
  12. What about college preparation assessments, including the SAT/ACT, Texas Success Initiative Assessment and International Baccalaureate examinations? (posted 4/8/20; updated 4/27/20)
  13. What options are available for graduating and rising seniors who have been negatively impacted in the ability to demonstrate college readiness by COVID-19? (posted 6/5/20)
  14. What about dual credit summer enrollment? (posted 4/24/20)
  15. What do we do if a graduating senior was scheduled to meet the requirement that students receive hands-on CPR instruction this spring? (posted 4/22/20)
  16. What should districts do regarding the off-campus physical activity substitution for the physical education graduation requirement? (posted 5/4/20)
  17. What about the required physical fitness assessment through FitnessGram? (posted 3/30/20)
  18. Are there resources on behavioral support services? (posted 4/6/20)
  19. Has TEA provided guidance for pregnancy-related services? (posted 4/16/20)

Accountability/school improvement

  1. How will TEA handle accountability ratings for this school year? (posted 4/3/20)
  2. How will a Not-Rated: Declared State of Disaster rating in 2019-20 affect the data used in the calculation of 2020-21 accountability? (posted 4/17/20)
  3. How will the Not-Rated accountability rating affect schools identified for school improvement? (posted 4/3/20)
  4. What school improvement interventions will be required for the remainder of the school year? (posted 4/3/20)
  5. Is there any funding for districts to help their Targeted Support and Improvement campuses be able to provide instructional continuity? (posted 4/3/20)

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.

1. What resources has the commissioner provided?

TEA has a webpage devoted to COVID-19 guidance. (Click here to view it.) TEA continually updates the webpage. It includes a link to the latest school closings, as districts report their plans and an FAQ originally released on March 12, 2020, that the commissioner will update. 

There is also new guidance addressing school finance issues, such as how districts will receive funding if they are closed but instructing or preparing for instruction, including descriptions of what teachers can be asked to do that amounts to instructional activities. (View it here.)

2. Are there any resources by region?

Yes, the Education Service Centers are providing additional COVID-19 guidance that is region specific. You may access the guidance here.

3. Will the Reading Academies schedule be impacted?

Currently Reading Academies activities are remote and proceeding as planned. TEA will continue to assess and address timelines. At this time, all previously communicated Reading Academies timelines communicated and committed to, are still in effect, in part because Reading Academies was always intended to be an online-accessible experience. One change, however, is that any event that previously was expected to be on-site (i.e. in Austin), such as Cohort Leader Training, is now proceeding under an expectation that the event will be virtual, fully-online and remote.

Student issues

1. 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 late summer or fall of 2020.

2. 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 summer or 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.

3. 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.

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 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.

4. Will students with outstanding (incomplete) MANDATORY discipline actions be required to fulfill them?

According to TEA’s Discipline FAQ (updated 5/5/20), districts may require students to fulfill assigned length of terms for all mandatory discipline actions required by statute. Districts also have discretion to modify length of terms as outlined in the Texas Education Code.

5. Has TEA provided guidance for DAEP students?

According to TEA’s Discipline FAQ (updated 5/5/20), a district may suspend a DAEP assignment until everyone physically returns to school. As well, nothing prohibits a district from reducing DAEP placement time and allowing a student to re-enroll at their home campus. A district may credit a DAEP student for participation via distance learning should the district meet the educational needs of the student and the other requirements of TEC Section 37.008(a). A student that completes the number of assigned days of a DAEP placement should return to their regular educational setting. Any extension of time would be determined through required due process based on a violation of the student code of conduct.

6. Must students meet the 90% attendance rule in order to pass a class this semester?

On March 15, 2020, the commissioner issued updated guidance on waivers and stated that waivers would automatically be granted for students who do not meet the minimum attendance requirements for class credit or a final grade.1

7. What about tracking student attendance while students are receiving remote instruction during school closures?

According to a document posted by TEA on March 31, 2020:

“There is currently no state requirement for districts or schools to report individual attendance numbers while students are receiving remote instruction due to school closures. While attendance tracking is not required for reporting purposes, tracking student participation can further operationalize remote learning and ensure student welfare during school closures. In these situations, schools may submit appropriate waivers to account for instructional days missed.”

Resources are currently available on the TEA COVID-19 site to inform which waivers are available and how such waivers will be processed. See this School Finance FAQ.

8. What about student assessment/grade level promotion/graduation requirements?

The governor waived state law and the U.S. Department of Education approved a waiver for all testing requirements for this year. STAAR will not be administered by TEA this year.

TEA’s March 18 Cancellation of STAAR Testing for the Remainder of the School Year provides the following:

STAAR Grades 3–8 Assessments

All State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness administrations scheduled for April, May, and June 2020 are cancelled.

Student Success Initiative promotion/retention requirements found in the Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.0211 are waived for the 2019–2020 school year. Districts will have local discretion on whether students in grades 5 and 8 should advance to the next grade.

Is a district required to provide students with accelerated instruction in the 2019-20 school year?

Since Gov. Abbott has waived STAAR testing requirements for the 2019-20 school year, any accelerated instruction required for students in grades 3-8, including students who receive special education services, should already have been completed for the current 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.

STAAR Alternate 2

The STAAR Alternate 2 administration window required under TEC, §39.023(b) and scheduled for March 30 through April 21, 2020, is canceled. For all students receiving special education services, the admission, review, and dismissal committee will continue to make educational decisions, including decisions related to required performance on academic assessments.

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

Although STAAR administrations scheduled for April, May and June 2020 were canceled and Student Success Initiative (SSI) promotion/retention requirements found in the Texas Education Code §28.0211 are waived for the 2019–20 school year, 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 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.

What about tests for progress monitoring for the remainder of this school year?

The state is making available optional end-of-year assessments for spring 2020 that schools can use to measure student progress and understanding of the TEKS. The EOY assessments have been built using released STAAR test questions that measure the TEKS and cover the same grades/subjects covered by STAAR. They will be available May 11 through June 12. Click here to read more.

The optional EOY assessments are intended to support district, campus and classroom-level analysis of student learning. As these assessments are comprised of previously released STAAR test questions and answers that are publicly available, the student performance data is not intended to be used for purposes such as accountability, staff performance or compensation measures. For more information on EOY assessments, you may access TEA’s Optional End of Year Assessment Webinar PDF and Optional End of Year Assessment Webinar Recording (added 4/28/20). For additional information on EOY Assessments and Resources, you may find TEA’s guidance here

A district that chooses to provide the optional EOY assessments in any available grade/subject or course must register by providing a student data file in the format currently used for STAAR. Registration is required for both online and paper testing. The registration window for districts closes May 29. The testing window opens May 11 and closes June 12.

Students can access the online tests at home using Pearson’s Schoolnet platform. Once registered, districts or parents may order PDF versions of the tests from Pearson. The PDF versions of the tests, along with paper answer documents, may be sent to students for testing at home and returned to the district for scoring. In addition, TEA plans to release the EOY assessments in fall 2020. For more information, see TEA guidance Optional End of Year Assessments (updated 5/7/20). 

What about prekindergarten end-of-year progress monitoring?

According to TEA’s April 23 Early Childhood Education Guidance, because districts and open-enrollment charters are not delivering instruction in their buildings but are instead operating in an alternative or distant learning capacity (“Closed, Instructing” per other agency guidance), administration of an EOY assessment would not be expected/required.

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

TEA is working on an optional diagnostic tool for use at the beginning of the 2020–21 school year that will be provided in addition to the interim assessments available next school year. 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. According to TEA, since BOY assessments are designed to diagnose understanding of the TEKS from the previous school year, districts should administer them to students based on their prior year enrolled grade level.

The optional BOY assessments will be available online and in paper (through a printable PDF) and preregistration is required. The registration window for districts opens July 20 and closes Sept. 18. Tests will be administered July 27 through Sept. 25. TEA will release more details soon.

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 2019-2020 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.

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 testing calendar for STAAR paper administrations has not been changed; according to TEA, the test dates for paper remain the same.

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.)

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. 

When will the updated testing calendar be available?

Click here to view the Student Assessment Testing Calendar for 2020–21 (revised 6/26/20).

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

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

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.

TELPAS and TELPAS Alternate

The Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) and TELPAS Alternate administration windows are currently open and are being extended to remain open through May 29, 2020, for a district to complete optionally if it chooses. Scoring data will be provided for each TELPAS domain a student completes. TEA is looking at exit criteria for English learners to determine what adjustments may be made this year for this determination. These discussions are ongoing, and more information will be provided as it develops.

A district that chooses not to complete TELPAS or TELPAS Alternate is not required to notify the Texas Education Agency. If the district wants to receive scores for students who completed all or part of TELPAS, it should make sure that all tests have been submitted. The district will need to make sure that all items have been answered in the score entry screen and have been submitted. According to TEA’s English Learner Guidance (TELPAS and LPAC) (updated 5/5/20), writing samples that have been collected for this year’s TELPAS but have not been rated are not considered secure materials. Districts are not required to keep them, and they can be properly discarded.

Additional guidance on administering and rating TELPAS may be found in the TELPAS and TELPAS Alternate Assessment Guide.

Graduation requirements

In light of the cancellation of STAAR testing for Spring 2020, required performance on end-of-course (EOC) exams for graduation is being waived for current seniors who are still working to meet assessment requirements for graduation. Seniors in the 2019–20 school year who have not yet met assessment requirements for graduation may be eligible to graduate as a result of an individual graduation committee (IGC) review.

TEA is providing the following guidance in order to assist school districts and charter schools in completing IGC reviews for seniors in the 2019–20 school year.

Student Eligibility

  • Seniors who were enrolled in the district or charter school during the 2019–20 school year may graduate via an IGC determination, regardless of the number of EOC exams they still need to pass.
  • Students must successfully complete the curriculum requirements for high school graduation. High school course credit requirements cannot be waived. Districts and charter schools must determine if a student has met all other graduation requirements, including successful completion of all curriculum requirements or an individualized education program. Credit for courses for high school graduation should be awarded based on a student's demonstrated proficiency in the essential knowledge and skills for the course.
  • A student who is on schedule to complete graduation requirements in Spring 2020 but does not have the opportunity to retake a STAAR EOC assessment prior to graduation is not required to pass that specific test to fulfill graduation requirements but will need to successfully complete the IGC process to be eligible to graduate.
  • A student who is on schedule to complete graduation requirements in Spring 2020 and was scheduled to take a required EOC for the first time in Spring 2020 is not required to pass that specific test to fulfill graduation requirements. An IGC is not needed in such circumstances.
  • According to TEA’s Guidance On Individual Graduation Committees (updated 5/19/20), a former student who has not completed the alternate IGC process by the time administration of STAAR EOCs resumes will need to take the necessary EOCs to graduate.
  • An IGC must make a decision to award a diploma no later than Aug. 31 of each school year in order for the student to be included as a graduate in the district graduation data in the school year in which the student meets the requirements. Please note that a decision to award a diploma via an IGC determination can be made after this date. In such cases, a student would be reported in the subsequent year's graduation data.
  • The IGC must consist of the teacher of each course with an associated EOC exam on which the student failed to perform satisfactorily. TAC §74.1025(g) and (h) permit flexibility if the required members of the committee are unavailable. Please note that a determination that a student is qualified to graduate must be made by the IGC and the committee’s vote must be unanimous.
  • For seniors who are graduating by IGC and who were unable to retest in 2020 due to cancellation of STAAR, districts should document on the Academic Achievement Record for each instance in which the student has failed to achieve the EOC assessment performance requirements, a “Did Not Meet Grade Level” performance. The district must maintain separate documentation of the IGC review and decision according to TEA’s Guidance On Individual Graduation Committees (updated 5/19/20).

Additional guidance may be found in TEA’s 2020 Seniors Guidance and Graduation FAQ (new information added 4/30/20), TEA’s Guidance On Individual Graduation Committees (new information added 4/28/20) and in TEA's Guidance on Grading and Graduation Requirements (new information added 3/31/20).

For students graduating in future years but taking one of the five courses with a corresponding STAAR EOC assessment this year, those students will not be responsible for meeting that EOC assessment graduation requirement if they earn course credit this year.

For more specific information on graduation for 2020 Seniors, see TEA’s Guidance for 2020 Seniors (4/21/20).

What is the last date a student can receive the waiver for the STAAR EOC assessment requirements?

According to TEA’s Assessment Guidance a student may receive the waiver for the STAAR EOC assessment requirement for courses completed with credit earned in spring or summer 2020. Once the 2020–21 school year has begun for a student based on his or her district’s or charter school’s official start date (no later than Aug. 24, 2020), the student is no longer eligible to receive the STAAR EOC assessment waiver.

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.

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 January 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 (CBE) 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 (TTU) 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.

Graduation Ceremony

On May 5, Gov. Abbott announced through executive order new guidance from TEA on class of 2020 graduation ceremonies for Texas school districts. In order for a school system to determine if a planned graduation is permissible under the governor’s current COVID-19 disaster orders, as well as any local orders not in conflict with the governor’s orders, TEA advises a school system to consult with its legal counsel. Assuming its legal counsel considers the planned activities permissible, the school system could then seek written approval from applicable local jurisdictions tasked with enforcement of COVID-19-related orders to engage in the planned activities. Participation by a student or family member in a ceremony is voluntary and may not be required or compelled by the school.

TEA is providing four pathways for schools to celebrate their graduating seniors, and each district is free to determine if any of these options best serve the needs and desires of their community:

  • Completely virtual ceremonies that take place entirely online, with the use of video conference or other technologies are approved to take place at any time. A student may participate in a virtual graduation ceremony upon certification that the student has satisfied all graduation requirements. No action is required on the part of school districts to obtain approval for a virtual ceremony.
  • Hybrid ceremonies, which consist of a compilation of videos of students being recognized in person as they celebrate graduation in small groups, may proceed starting May 5. Specific examples of ways to conduct this type of ceremony are included in TEA’s Guidance.
  • Vehicle ceremonies, in which students and their families wait in their cars while other graduates are recognized one at time with their families alongside them, may proceed starting May 15. Specific examples of ways to conduct this type of ceremony are included in TEA’s Guidance.
  • Outdoor in-person ceremonies may be held between May 15 and May 28 in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony. An outdoor ceremony may take place in any Texas county on or after May 29. Specific examples of ways to conduct this type of ceremony are included in TEA’s Guidance

Prior to June 1, school employees, students and parents must comply with TEA's guidance on Minimum Standard Health Protocols on Visits to Schools During Campus Closures, except where noted in its graduation guidance. After June 1, school employees, students and parents must comply with TEA’s Summer Instruction, Activities and School Visits Guidance (updated 5/18/20). 

Effective July 7 per Gov. Abbott’s Executive Order 29, masks must be worn for hybrid, vehicle, and outdoor ceremonies. Schools may require the use of masks or face shields for adults or students for whom it is developmentally appropriate. Diplomas or other documents may not be handed from person to person unless gloves and masks are worn at all times. As the public health situation changes, these guidelines may be modified further.

For more information, please see: Graduation and End-of-Year Promotion Ceremonies Guidance Per Executive Order No. GA-29 (updated 7/7/20), and Summer Instruction, Activities and School Visit Guidance Per Executive Order No. GA-28 (updated 7/7/20).

9. Has TEA provided guidance on grading?

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.

While TEA does not have the authority over grading policies, examples of district grading policies that have been adopted to address the remainder of the 2019-20 school year may be accessed in Section 2.2 of the Instructional Continuity Planning Framework.

If local policy permits, an incomplete may be awarded for a grading period. High school students may be awarded proportionate credit if they complete only half of a course (TAC §74.26(d)). All completed high school courses, regardless of the amount of credit earned, must be entered on the student transcript. A final grade of incomplete should not be noted on the student transcript as the student did not complete the course.

Districts and charter schools that do not have a policy permitting the award of proportionate credit may wish to consider awarding proportionate credit so that a student who has completed half of the course can be awarded partial credit rather than awarding an incomplete for the entire course.

10. If school districts changed their grading system to pass/fail, how will school districts comply with progress reporting requirements for students with IEPs?

According to TEA’s April 7 COVID-19 Special Education Q&A, school districts should make all reasonable efforts to comply with the requirements of individual students’ IEPs. Districts should develop a plan and expectations created with input from an individual student’s parents for how progress monitoring toward IEP goals will be conducted, documented and communicated. As is always the case, effective and regular communication with families is imperative. School districts may document changes to progress reporting processes during the COVID-19 pandemic response. For more information, click here

11. What about AP classes and exams?

Students and schools have access to free, live and on-demand AP courses and review lessons, delivered by AP teachers from across the country. The lessons will focus on reviewing the skills and concepts from the first 75% of the course.

Additionally, for the 2019-20 exam administration only, students can take a 45-minute online free-response exam at home in May. Educator-led development committees are currently selecting the exam questions that will be administered. Officials also are working to ensure online tests will be secure. A blueprint of each exam can be found here. Students who need mobile tools or connectivity may reach out directly to the College Board for assistance.

Students are encouraged to wait closer to the test date to decide whether to take the AP exam, however, any student already registered for an exam may choose to cancel at no charge. For more information, click here for TEA guidance, or click here for more from the College Board.

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

The College Board canceled the May 2 and the June 6 SAT and SAT Subject Test administration as well as makeup exams for the March 14 administration. Students who registered for May or June, whose March test centers were closed, or who do not receive March scores because of any irregularities 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 every month through the end of the calendar year, beginning in August. This includes a new administration in September and the previously scheduled tests on Aug. 29, Oct. 3, Nov. 7, and Dec. 5. Students can register for these administrations starting in May. The College Board will contact students directly once the exact date is established. Eligible students can register with a fee waiver.

For each administration, the College Board is preparing to significantly expand the capacity for students to take the SAT once schools reopen. 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.

Students can get early access to register for August, September, and October if they’re:

  • Already registered for June
  • In the high school class of 2021 and don’t have SAT scores

ACT, Inc. rescheduled its April 4 national test date to June 13. All students registered for the April 4 test date will receive an email from ACT with instructions on rescheduling to June 13 or a future national test date. Click here for more information.

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. 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.

For all Texas Success Initiative Assessment 1.0 testing, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is encouraging testing centers to utilize Examity, College Board's Online proctoring partner. Examity is offering a reduced proctor fee of $20 per test session. THECB expects services to be live starting April 17 and to move quickly to full capacity by end of April. THECB also expects to add additional remote proctor options as they become available. Additionally, the TSIA2 release date is postponed to Sept. 28. All TSIA 2.0 trainings through May 31 are canceled. Institutions will be notified with new training dates once they have been established. Click here for more information.

The International Baccalaureate Organization canceled the 2020 administration of IB exams. Students will be awarded either a diploma or a course certificate that reflects their standard of work. The achievement will be based around the students’ coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes. Click here for FAQs regarding testing cancellation.

The Middle Years Programme Assessment May 2020 MYP on-screen examinations are canceled. E-Portfolio and Personal Projects grades will be issued. MYP certificate will be awarded, reflecting achievements from a combination of Personal Project, ePortfolio subjects, and predicted grades for other subjects. Click here for more MYP information.

Click here for more information from TEA on decisions related to College Preparation Assessments.

TEA is expanding the college preparation assessment reimbursements to include summer testing administrations. Eligible students will now be seniors who take either the SAT, ACT or TSIA. TEA also recognizes that online test administrations can come at a higher cost. Due to this, TEA will reimburse districts for both the TSIA test fee and the any proctor fees for the online version of the TSIA for those students impacted and will also include summer testing administrations for reimbursement. (See the April 14 General State Funding FAQs.)

On April 23, TEA provided additional information on TSI assessment in its Dual Credit Summer Enrollment FAQ, including district considerations.

13. 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, and
  • Changing college requirements.

According to TEA’s Texas College Bridge Overview, the Texas College Bridge website makes available an alternative to support students and achieve district College/Career and Military Readiness levels. It is applicable beyond 2020, free to students and provides them with a self-paced, competency-based, on-line course, with evidence of validity and personalized math and/or English learning. Texas College Bridge is also free to districts as TEA has procured license to cover the state. 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.

14. What about dual credit summer enrollment?

TEA provides guidance in its April 23 Dual Credit Summer Enrollment FAQ. For students who want to enroll in dual credit courses for Summer 2020 who have not yet demonstrated TSI readiness (Texas Success Initiative Assessment) via TSIA/ACT/SAT a district may check with the Institution of Higher Education dual credit provider with whom the district partners for the options it is utilizing. Each institution makes its own decisions. There are several possibilities if a high school student isn’t currently college ready or dual credit eligible.

In addition, any student may enroll in non-TSI liable courses at any time without meeting the college readiness on the TSI assessment or one of the exemptions or being dual credit eligible, (TAC §4.85).

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recommends postponing decisions regarding academic year 2020-21 for students not meeting TSI exemptions or TAC §4.85 until May 1, 2020, at which time THECB expects to provide additional guidance.

15. What do we do if a graduating senior was scheduled to meet the requirement that students receive hands-on CPR instruction this spring?

School districts are required to provide instruction to students in grades 7-12 in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If seniors have not completed this requirement, a school district should request a waiver of the requirement from the commissioner. Steps for submitting a waiver request can be found on the Instructions for Submitting a CPR Waiver document located on the TEA Coronavirus webpage under Waivers & Funding.

16. What should districts do regarding the off-campus physical activity substitution for the physical education graduation requirement?

According to TEA’s 2020 Seniors Guidance and Graduation FAQ (updated on 4/30/20), districts and open-enrollment charter schools may award a student credit toward the physical education graduation requirement for participation in a TEA-approved private or commercially sponsored physical activity programs conducted on or off-campus if the program provides documentation that the student completed the program remotely. Alternatively, a district or charter school may award credit for physical education if they can determine that, through participation in the private or commercially sponsored physical activity program, the student demonstrated proficiency in all of the TEKS for one of the high school physical education courses (Foundations of Personal Fitness, Adventure/Outdoor Education, Aerobic Activities, Individual Sports, or Team Sports).

17. What about the required physical fitness assessment through FitnessGram?

The governor suspended the assessment and reporting of the physical fitness of students using FitnessGram this year.

18. 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.

19. 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.

Accountability/school improvement

1. How will TEA handle accountability ratings for this school year?

According to TEA, all districts and campuses will receive a Not Rated: Declared State of Disaster for 2019-2020 rating in the state accountability system. Source: Accountability FAQ (April 2, 2020)

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education approved Texas’ waiver request from federal accountability requirements for the 2019-20 school year.

2. How will a Not-Rated: Declared State of Disaster rating in 2019-20 affect the data used in the calculation of 2020-21 accountability?

According to TEA, 2021 accountability ratings will only include STAAR results from December 2020 and spring 2021 administrations. However, decisions regarding how the Not Rated: Declared State of Disaster for 2019-20 rating will impact data used in the calculation of 2020-21 accountability have not yet been made. Two advisory groups will have an opportunity to provide input into these decisions: the Accountability Technical Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives from school districts and regional education service centers; and the Accountability Policy Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives from legislative offices, school districts and the business community. TEA will work with these stakeholders to determine how the accountability system will be affected in 2020-21. For more, see TEA’s April 16 Accountability FAQ.

3. How will the Not-Rated accountability rating effect schools identified for improvement?

According to TEA, a rating of Not Rated: Declared State of Disaster for 2019-20 does not break the chain of consecutive years of unacceptable ratings for purposes of accountability interventions and sanctions. Under the Not Rated: Declared State of Disaster rating, districts and campuses shall continue to implement any previously ordered sanctions and interventions. Ordered sanctions and interventions carried out by districts and/or campuses in the 2019-20 school year will carry over and continue for 2020-21.

4. What school improvement interventions will be required for the remainder of the school year?

TEA is delaying pending submissions for the remainder of this school year. TEA will be working on guidance and resources that will allow campuses and districts to reflect on the implementation of this year’s Targeted Improvement Plans in a way that provides focus and a strong starting point for next school year’s Targeted Improvement Plans. 

5. Is there any funding for districts to help their Targeted Support and Improvement campuses be able to provide instructional continuity?

According to TEA’s April 2 School Improvement FAQ, TEA will release Instructional Continuity Grants on April 6 (click here for more information). This grant provides an opportunity for school districts with identified Targeted Support and Improvement campuses to increase their capacity to facilitate instructional continuity and distance, remote and/or virtual learning for identified targeted support and improvement campuses that have been affected by campus closures due to COVID-19. District awards will range between $10,500 and $220,000. The grant will cover costs associated with building capacity to deploy curriculum, curricular resources and assessments aligned to TEKS for Instructional Continuity and/or at-home schools, professional development in developing effective virtual learning instruction, providing monitoring and support to teachers, students, and parents, addressing or developing areas associated with any of the above actions or technical assistance provided by a Regional Education Service Center.

Click here to return to the main COVID-19 FAQ page.


Footnotes

1. Waivers will be automatically granted, pursuant to the commissioner's general waiver authority under Texas Education Code (TEC), §7.056, for students who do not meet the minimum attendance requirements of TEC, §25.092, for class credit or final grade for the 2019-2020 school year. School districts and open-enrollment charter schools do not need to apply for these automatic waivers.