Texans petition to cancel STAAR test for Hurricane Harvey relief


Kaylee Aguilar

A petition on Change.org has gained attention about cancelling the STAAR test in favor of using those funds for Hurricane Harvey Relief. This is the overall budget for Texas, the amount of money being spent for STAAR and the amount of money needed for Hurricane Harvey relief.

Claire Clements , Staff Writer

On the website Change.org, Vanessa Feldschau, a Texas teacher in Pearland ISD in the Houston area, started a petition to cancel the STAAR test in favor of using those funds to rebuild Texas schools impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

The Hurricane Harvey damage cost is up to $160 billion, which exceeds the costs of Hurricanes Sandy (2012) and Katrina (2005). However, if the test is cancelled this year, the funds produced would take $70 million off the total cost, leaving $159 billion.

This petition would be sent if it reaches the target number of signatures, 300,000, to Governor Gregg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, Representative Randy Weber and State Representative Ed Thompson.

Two weeks after it was posted, the petition has more than 200,000 signatures. While the majority of people think it is a good idea, there are mixed opinions on whether its stipulations will actually be carried out. .

“I feel like [state legislators] would [cancel the STAAR test this year] just because Hurricane Harvey damaged so much and all those schools need to be repaired,” Coppell High School sophomore Yashasvi Nallamottu said. “I feel like [the person who made the petition] made a really good argument.”

Others are more pessimistic about the petition’s chances.

“State legislators won’t approve the petition because they think that the tests are valuable.” CHS Spanish teacher Christie Nelson said.

The petition may not even be going to the right people. The CHS STAAR Testing Coordinator, Dr. Rachelle Hill, explains that it’s not as simple as the governor passing a bill.

“The funds would make an impact on the relief,” Hill said. “However, I think what we’re up against is that [the people who make the STAAR test are] a private company, Pearson and Education Testing Services, their problem is that if we sign the contract, we are giving them a certain amount of money for these tests, we’re going against their contract, and I think that’s probably where we’ll meet resistance.”

The Texas Board of Education is currently paying $280 million over four years ($70 million per year) to Education Testing Services, who makes all of the tests.

The other question is how not having a STAAR test for a year would affect schools.

“I don’t think students would suffer, I don’t think instruction would suffer, the only thing you have to think about is like, if we continue having five tests to graduate, what would happen to the kids enrolled in English I, they have to have that test to graduate, then they don’t take it this year, do they have to take it next year, a year after they’ve been in that class, or do they get a waiver?” Hill said.

Follow Claire @cclements825