Dear UTHS Diploma Program Students and Parents,
We understand that we are all experiencing concern and unease during the evolving situation surrounding the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. This is true for our students, staff, UT community, and global community. At UT-Austin, we are changing our daily practices as our staff members move to working remotely and we engage in social distancing practices.
Fortunately, we are able to continue providing online courses for students enrolled in the UT High School programs with only a few minor changes. We anticipate that students will be able to complete their spring semester courses according to the scheduled calendar timelines, but we are continuing to monitor the situation and will adjust and communicate with you if circumstances change. Our staff and teachers are able to work remotely to facilitate online course instruction for students and grade assignments.
We are experiencing some minor delays for final exams and credit by exams due to disruptions for mail delivery to the University, our staff working remotely, and closure of testing centers across Texas, nationally, and internationally. Exams which were recently placed in the mail to us will require additional time for us to receive and record grades. We expect to be able to finalize grades for recently completed exams in the next few weeks, in time to meet the end of semester deadlines.
Many of you have asked us if we plan to offer online exam proctoring, which the University recently announced was available for our online college courses. We are in the process of finalizing an extension to that agreement for UT High School students, so we can offer online final exam proctoring by the end of April, which will be in time for Diploma Program students to finish their final exams by the deadline for the spring semester. As soon as the agreement is approved, and we have guidelines for students to request final exams to be proctored online in their own homes, we will share the information with you and post the notification on our website. The online proctoring service, Proctorio, involves a lockdown browser, an identification process to verify the student taking the exam, and a video recording to monitor the student during the exam. After completing a review of the Proctorio system, we believe it provides the necessary protections for students to ensure there are no unauthorized individuals viewing a student during the video recording. In the meantime, students should continue ordering final exams through the same Skyward process they used for the fall semester until we send an update regarding online proctoring. After we set up the online proctoring system for final exams, the next phase of implementation will include credit by exams.
In addition, we are expecting the UT Testing Center on our Main Campus to resume offering some on site proctoring for exams by appointment, with social distancing strategies in place, in the upcoming weeks. For more information about the UT Testing Center’s notice of services and to schedule an appointment, go to https://testingservices.utexas.edu/ut-public-testing-center.
State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness End-of-Course Exams (STAAR EOC)
STAAR EOC exams are cancelled for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. Earlier this week, Governor Greg Abbott used his statutory authority (Texas Government Code §418.016) to suspend annual academic assessment requirements for this school year. Any seniors who have not passed all five of the required STAAR EOC exams will be reviewed under the individual graduation committee (IGC) process to determine each student’s eligibility to graduate. The IGC will review students at the end of the spring semester and communicate directly with any seniors in this situation. Seniors will continue to be required to meet all other graduation requirements under TEC, §28.025(c), including successfully completing all curriculum requirements.
For students who will graduate in future years (current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors) and are currently enrolled in an EOC course (Algebra I, Biology, English I, English II, or US History), they will not be responsible for taking the EOC this year or in future years if they earn a passing grade for semesters A and B in their course this year. If they fail the EOC course this year, they will be required to retake the course and take the corresponding EOC when it’s offered in future years.
We will continue to communicate with you regarding any changes to our programs and services as situations evolve and information becomes available. The University of Texas at Austin has recently learned that members of our community have tested positive for COVID-19 and our highest priority continues to be the health and safety of our students, families, and staff. If you have any additional questions or need clarification, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Beth Cooper, Ed. D.
Superintendent, UT High School