Timeline & Documentation of TEA’s Delayed Disclosure of ETS Report That Documented 2016 STAAR Was Out of Compliance with HB-743 Time Limits

Timeline

 

Narrative & Documentation

 

APRIL 20th...

On April 20th, the first of three public information requests were filed with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for “summaries, reports, analyses, or any other documents indicating the completion time for 85% of the students for each STAAR assessment in Grades 3-8 administered from March 28, 2016 to the present” as well as e-mails and correspondence internally or with vendors related to producing that information.

 
 

APRIL 22nd...

TEA’s first response essentially rejected the request as duplicative of a similar request from February 2016. However, since March testing had not yet taken place, the request on April 20 for reports about STAAR administrations that began on March 28 could in no way be duplicative. This misunderstanding of the basic details of the request is troubling.

 
 

April 25th...

After a clarifying letter and phone call, the TEA’s second response was “I asked the responsive division to review your comments. Upon a second review, they confirm that there are no records responsive … The reports referenced in your request have not been produced by the testing vendor. We are still administering spring tests, so we do not currently have an estimated time of completion for these reports.”

 
 

May 17th...

A second request asking for the same information as April 20th is submitted to the TEA.

May 22nd...

Lewis et al. v. Morath is filed in Travis County District Court asking for a judgment that Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) acted outside of their statutory authority in administering the 2015-2016 STAAR assessments by not complying with Chapter 39 of the Texas Education Code which specifically required shorter assessments.

May 23rd...

TEA responds for a third time regarding the requested information, and they not only communicate that there are no such documents, they also suggest the agency isn’t expecting them until July or August. An agency representative writes, “TEA has conducted a good faith search for any and all information related to your request and has not been able to locate information that may be responsive to your request. … Please note that testing is still in progress. TEA anticipates that the results you seek may be available in late July or early August 2016.” This response suggests that ETS won’t even be studying the time data from the March administration until after the May and June administrations are complete.

 
 

July 13th...

In conjunction with Lewis et al. v. Morath, the TEA files a motion for a protective order against parent plaintiffs seeking evidence related to their lawsuit and to have a judge delay the discovery phase of proceedings until after a judge rules on whether plaintiffs have standing to ask for judicial review of their allegations.

July 14th...

A third request made by another party but with the same requirements as the first two is submitted to the TEA.

July 27th...

TEA sends its fourth response related to the requested information. This time, the TEA admits documents described in the request exist but claim that the agency is exempt from disclosing those documents because they pertain to pending litigation with the agency. A portion of the response states, “TEA believes that certain information responsive to your request is excepted from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act.  As a result, we wish to withhold this information and have requested a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) about whether the information is within an exception to public disclosure.  A copy of our request for ruling to the OAG is attached.  The Attorney General will issue the decision within 45 business days and their office will provide you a copy of the decision once issued.  Upon receipt, the Texas Education Agency will follow the decision of the Attorney General.”

 
 

August 15th...

TEA releases state-wide accountability ratings for school districts and individual campuses based on 2016 STAAR assessments data.

August 17th...

2 Days After Statewide Accountability Ratings Released...

Between 3:00pm and 4:00pm, during a court hearing related to Lewis et al. v. Morath, counsel for the TEA (an Assistant Attorney General) was asked by the judge how long the STAAR tests took this year. He responded, “We do not have that data.”

Later that evening, at exactly the same time—6:25pm—both parties responsible for the requests on May 17 and July 14 were emailed an updated response declaring that a newly discovered document that met request criteria had been discovered. In part, one of those emailed responses states, “Upon receipt of a subsequent PIR, TEA located the attached document with is also responsive to your request.  Please note that the attached report only addresses the March 2016 administration of Grade 5 and 8 Reading and Mathematics and Grade 4 and 7 writing.”

 
 

May 6th...

16 Days After First Public Information Request...

11 Days Before Second Public Information Request...

103 Days Prior to August 17th Disclosure...

On May 6, 2016, Educational Testing Service's Texas STAAR Psychometric Services Team sent a memorandum titled A Report on Testing Time Collected During March 2016 Test Administration to Gloria Zyskowski, the Student Assessment Division Director at the TEA.

A portion of Page 1 of the memo...

 
Texas House Bill 743 (HB743) added §39.023 (a-12) to Education Code specifies the following requirements for STAAR grades 3–8 assessments:

1. If administered to students in grades three through five (i.e., lower grades), 85 percent of students will be able to complete the assessment instrument within 120 minutes (2 hours); and
2. If administered to students in grades six through eight (i.e., higher grades), 85 percent of students will be able to complete the assessment instrument within 180 minutes (3 hours).
However as observed in the data, only a small percentage (about 17% for Grade 5 Reading for example) completed the test in 2 hours for the lower grades. Findings were more positive for the higher grade tests where approximately 70-80 % percent of students completed the tests in 3 hours. The percentages for all March tests are shown in Table 1. These percentages do not support the requirement (i.e., 85% of students completing the test in 2 hours) for the lower grades. 
 

From Page 4...

 
 

Wow...

 

ETS Report Released Showing 2016 STAAR Failed to Comply with HB-743 Time Limits

Parent Lawsuit Against Texas Education Agency Headed for Courtroom on Wednesday