U.S. Department of Education says states can’t cancel standardized tests

The U.S. Department of Education announced on Monday that states will have to administer their annual standardized tests this school year. Paired with the testing requirement is additional flexibility though, such as remotely administering the tests if feasible, shortening the exams, and/or extending the testing window. Waivers from the department will be available for school accountability and school identification requirements, which will include waiving the provision that states have a 95 percent test participation rate.

Understanding student learning and progress during COVID-19 is fundamental to ensuring student success. Assessing students will give a snapshot into learning loss, help drive instruction, and help guard against lowered expectations. Data will also help states identify where to best direct federal aid dollars.

Organizations across the political spectrum support statewide assessments as an important piece of getting baseline information on our students. The disability community also cheered the department’s testing announcement, reports U.S. News & World Report, given the impact COVID has had on students with disabilities and that in most states “the annual assessment provides the only data point that shows how students with disabilities are performing compared to their grade-level peers.” Teachers’ unions are less than thrilled with the assessment news.

The window for Minnesota’s state assessments opens March 8, the date that Gov. Walz has said he expects all public schools to offer students some form of in-person learning.

As of Friday morning, 32 percent of districts and charter schools are operating in-person, 11 percent hybrid, 12 percent distance learning, and 45 percent some combination of the three.

Source: Minnesota Department of Education Safe Learning Model Dashboard