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State tests canceled, AISD urges pupils to finish summer school

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ABILENE, Texas - Abilene ISD officials are encouraging 5 th - and 8 th -grade students – in summer school after failing state-mandated tests twice this year – to continue in class, even though the state is waiving the requirement that they pass the tests to advance to the next grade.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath decided to waive the consequences for this year's crop of 5 th - and 8 th -grade summer school students because of technical problems with the tests they took and ongoing reporting issues with the state's test vendor.

In March, a computer glitch resulted in students losing answers. More than 14,000 exams were impacted.

AISD accountability director Jeannie Forehand told KTXS that she agrees with the commissioner's decision.

"If we haven't been able to get results that are accurate and are valid, then the decision always need to be made in the students' best interest." Forehand said.

Morath is leaving it up to Texas public school districts to decide whether the students are promoted to the next grade or held back.

According to AISD spokesman Phil Ashby, 422 students are registered for "STAAR prep" in the district. The prep program is scheduled to end Monday, June 20, Ashby said.

Wyile ISD has 15 students in STAAR prep summer courses and Brownwood ISD has 113 students enrolled.

"Regardless of advancement requirements, school districts must offer accelerated instruction for students who did not perform satisfactorily on the STAAR assessment," an AISD statement said Monday. "Students currently registered in summer school STAAR acceleration courses would continue to benefit from additional instruction.

"Therefore, we are encouraging students to attend the remaining days and are communicating to parents that instructional services will be provided during the summer sessions."

New Jersey-based Educational Testing Services is administering the exam after winning a $280 million contract.

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