How did TEA handle the 2009 Accountability Ratings after the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic?

In 2009, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) was the statewide test, and some districts were dealing with Hurricane Ike AND the swine flu.

H1N1 was first reported in April 2009, and in the first weeks of May, schools across the nation closed in an attempt to thwart the outbreak. According to news reports at that time, TEA reported 857 campuses enrolling over 503,000 students were closed on average of “three to fivedays due to the flu virus.” At the end of that school year, 33 school districts applied for low attendance waivers and 98 districts applied for missed instructional day waivers.

The screenshot below from the 2009 Accountability Manual shows how the agency handled the accountability ratings for school closures due to swine flu.

What, if any, flexibility does ESSA allow for a school that is closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Yesterday afternoon, U.S. Education Secretary DeVos announced that the “Department has posted a fact sheet for K-12 schools about their considerations related to assessments and accountability should a school be closed for an extended period. If a school is unable to meet certain benchmarks due to absenteeism or school closure, the Department would consider a targeted one-year waiver so that the participation rate or absenteeism metric would not be factored into the school’s Academic Achievement indicator.”

Accountability experts will want to read the entire ESSA K-12 fact sheet for additional details.

In addition to the K-12 fact sheet related to assessments and accountability, the USDE published a Q&A document to ensure that students with disabilities continue to receive services guaranteed by IDEA and Section 504 during the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the press release, “This information answers the most common questions schools have about when and how they must provide instruction, including when to consider use of online or virtual instruction and other curriculum-based instructional activities.”

For more information please refer to the Q&A document below.

TEA Issues Guidance & FAQs on COVID-19

Last night, TEA issued official guidance related to COVID-19 including school closures, absences, online instruction, and assessment and accountability.

With regards to state testing occurring on a day the school is closed…TEA is ‘reviewing logistical options’ and reminds districts that there is more flexibility when testing online than on paper. TEA advises “districts and charters who anticipate the possibility of being closed on a testing date should begin planning for the possibility of scaling up online assessment in the event alternative testing dates might be required.”

Finally, TEA has established a new COVID-19 website as a central source for information and intends to update it with additional resources on a regular basis.

Questions? Ask TSA!

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