March 25, 2014
TO THE SUPERINTENDENT ADDRESSED:
SUBJECT: State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Testing Requirements for Middle School Students Taking Accelerated Mathematics Instruction Beyond Algebra I
I am providing this letter as a clarification to the March 6, 2014, correspondence that school districts received from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) concerning middle school students taking Algebra I. This letter specifically addresses testing requirements for middle school students receiving accelerated mathematics instruction beyond Algebra I (e.g., geometry or Algebra II).
Texas Education Code (TEC) §39.023(a) requires students to be assessed in mathematics annually in grades 3–8. Subsection (a-2) provides an exception to this annual grade-level testing requirement for students who are enrolled in a course for high school credit and will be administered a STAAR end-of-course assessment. As a result, accelerated middle school students who are receiving instruction in Algebra I only need to take the STAAR Algebra I assessment.
However, House Bill 5, passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2013, eliminated the STAAR geometry and Algebra II assessments. Since these end-of-course assessments are no longer available to accelerated middle school students receiving instruction in geometry or Algebra II, TEC 39.023(a) requires these students to take their on-grade-level mathematics assessment. TEC §7.056(e)(3)(B) prohibits me from granting a waiver from these grade-level testing requirements because they are part of TEC Chapter 39, Subchapter B.
Further, under TEC §28.0211(o)(1) accelerated middle school students receiving instruction in geometry or Algebra II taking the required grade 8 assessment would be subject to the same promotion/retention requirements that are part of the Student Success Initiative (SSI) for grade 8 students taking the on-grade-level mathematics assessment. In this case, TEC §7.056 does allow the commissioner to grant a waiver from TEC Chapter 28 requirements.
Therefore, I am choosing to use my statutory authority as the commissioner of education to waive the SSI promotion/retention requirements found in TEC Chapter 28 for these accelerated mathematics students. School districts will not be required to apply to the commissioner for a waiver from these requirements contained in Chapter 28 in order to exempt these middle school students who are taking accelerated mathematics instruction beyond Algebra I from SSI requirements.
Although I do not support testing middle school students receiving instruction in geometry or Algebra II on grade level content that does not reflect the instruction the students received that school year, I cannot change or waive the state grade-level testing requirements under TEC §39.023(a).
If you have questions regarding the STAAR program, please call the Student Assessment Division at 512-463-9536. For state and federal accountability questions, please call the Division of Performance Reporting at 512-463-9704.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the success of Texas students.
Commissioner of Education