You may recall that in 2015 the legislature enacted several reforms in how our accountability system works. Among other things, our lawmakers had mercy on children subjected to overly long STAAR tests. The tests were to be “designed” so that 85% of kids in grades 3-5 could finish the test in 120 minutes; and 85% of the kids in grades 6-8 could finish in 180 minutes. But this put the squeeze on T.E.A., which acknowledged that it did not have the time to re-design the tests prior to administration of STAAR in the spring of 2016.
This has now led to litigation. Several parents alleged that their children did not perform satisfactorily on the tests in the spring of 2016. As a result the children were automatically categorized as “at risk” and subjected to assignment to accelerated instruction. They sued Commissioner Morath in his official capacity. They did not seek damages, but rather, a declaration in their favor and an injunction for the future.
The court held that the parents had properly alleged that the Commissioner had acted “ultra vires,” meaning that he had exceeded his legal authority, by ordering the administration of a test that failed to meet the requirements of the law. Thus the court retained jurisdiction of the case and denied the Commissioner’s plea to the jurisdiction. Onward we go.
The case is Morath v. Lewis, decided by the Third Court of Appeals on March 29, 2018. We found it at 2018 WL 1527875.
DAWG BONE: CHALK UP A WIN FOR THE MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK TESTING!
Tomorrow: the Dawg makes an announcement…