Update - Board Passes Two Major Resolutions
January 20, 2021
At last night’s meeting, the Angleton ISD Board of Trustees approved two major resolutions directly related to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on school districts. The resolutions address the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and the canceling of the 2021 STAAR test.
The first resolution is a request for Governor Greg Abbott to include public school district personnel in the official Expert Vaccine Allotment Panel’s definition of “frontline workers,” giving school personnel appropriate priority in the statewide administration of the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available.
“Our teachers and staff are on the frontline, and we think it’s extremely important that we avail them to the vaccine as quickly as possible so they can protect themselves and help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” AISD Board President Tommy Gaines said.
The resolution cites the board’s interest in protecting the health and safety of its students, staff and community to ensure that the school district is fully prepared to face the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 health emergency. It defines all school district staff as essential to the day-to-day operations of the district and critical for virtual and in-class instruction, and the board is officially asking Governor Abbott to recognize the impact that schools have on students and families and the integral role they play in the health and safety of the community.
“Public schools are a vital part of the continued fight and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” AISD Superintendent Phil Edwards said. “School teachers are on the frontline every day of this fight and should be given the consideration and thought to provide a safe environment for themselves, their families and the children they serve.”
The second resolution that the board passed supports canceling the STAAR test and suspending the State accountability for the 2020-2021 school year. This action will allow the school district to focus on interventions necessary to recover instructional gaps resulting from school closures caused by COVID-19.
Research shows that there are significant academic gains made at the end of each school year, which may not be present now with the extended school closure and other issues related to the pandemic. The resolution cites natural disasters such as Katrina, Rita and Harvey as examples of past instances where exceptions to State accountability have been made because of the negative effects that school closures have on student achievement.
“Our staff, students and their families do not need the added pressure that the STAAR test provides every year,” Edwards said. “Although TEA (Texas Education Agency) has stated that schools and districts will not be rated this year, I have no faith that TEA will cease assigning letter grades to district and school domains from any STAAR test administration.”
Edwards is also concerned that TEA has not canceled the End of Course (EOC) passing requirements that affect student graduation abilities.
“High school students have faced and are still facing many obstacles this year due to COVID-19, and for TEA to continue to demand that this additional burden be placed on students during this difficult time is unwarranted,” he said.
Edwards says AISD has other diagnostic tools that can be used to determine student performance and academic achievement levels for students in all grades.
“The practice of comparing schools and districts and in placing unnecessary stress on students and staff should not be in place this school year,” he said. “Standards should be adjusted to allow school districts to use other evaluation tools that will provide a more accurate assessment and reflection of the progress made during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
Gaines says the board agrees with Edwards and that having a STAAR Test this year would have no real bearing and will add extra, unnecessary stress right now.
“Continuing the test would be wasting time on a result that is meaningless, and it will be difficult to do with the current situation in respect to COVID-19 and the quarantining that is happening,” he said. “We do not need to focus on an assessment that will only put undue pressure on our students and staff.”