As Texas continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and the state is experiencing a troubling increase in new cases, it is critical that we support our students and educators who must cope with unprecedented challenges to the learning process.
In October, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez pointed out that the Rio Grande Valley is just 4.7% of the Texas population, yet represents 17% of Texas COVID-19 deaths. The trauma our community has experienced has disrupted every aspect of daily life, not the least of which being our educational system.
While our outstanding educators focus on delivering innovative educational content and working toward a safe and healthy return to classrooms once conditions improve, we must also reduce the burdens and stresses we place upon both students and educators. The most immediate way we can do this is by eliminating high-stakes testing.
Thank you, Governor Abbott, for making the right call in canceling the STAAR test this spring. We know that any test results obtained under current conditions will be of questionable validity. Decisions such as student promotion and graduation, school accountability ratings, and educator evaluations should not be based on questionable test data.
I therefore join with educators, administrators, school board members, legislators, and a number of my colleagues on the State Board of Education in asking Governor Abbott’s office to waive administration of STAAR, T-TESS, and TELPAS for the 2020-21 school year.
Thank you, Gov. Abbott, for your continued work as we fight this pandemic together.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Ruben Cortez, a member of the Texas State Board of Education. Cortez, a Brownsville native, represents District 2, which covers much of the Rio Grande Valley. The above column is based upon an open letter Cortez sent to Gov. Greg Abbott. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the author’s permission.

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