Last school year state level testing was suspended because schools had moved to remote learning. Now the Department of Education has said that states will be required to resume annual state testing this school year (https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/02/23/970520559/states-must-test-student-learning-this-spring-biden-administration-says). This information comes as several large school districts remain online or provide hybrid options despite the overwhelming evidence that a return to in person learning is safe. The Biden Administration even recently released a five-step roadmap, outlining the steps needed for schools to reopen safely.
While data from state testing is primarily used by state governments to map the growth of students and hold schools accountable, they are also used to help determine funding at both the state and federal levels. In addition to reporting testing results, states will also be required to provide information on chronic absenteeism and internet and computer access. One major concern is the expanding gap between online and in person students, and especially amongst minorities in poorer school districts.
There are waivers being offered bringing some flexibility to the Department of Education’s requirements. These waivers would allow schools to lower the percentage of students required for testing, offer remote testing options, shorten tests, and offer multiple testing windows. That being said, several schools are already working to cancel testing altogether. These include states like Georgia, who have provided primarily in person schooling, and states like California who have primarily been online. Becky Pringle, Director of the National Education Association, has said, "High-stakes standardized tests administered during the global health crisis should not determine a student's future, evaluate educators, or punish schools; nor should they come at the expense of precious learning time that students could be spending with their educators."
The state of Texas will move forward with the annual STAAR test, however some changes will be made to compensate for the continuing pandemic. Students in grades 5 and 8 will not be required to pass the reading and math tests to move onto the next grade level. Online students will have to take the test on campus, but they will also have the option to opt out of the test if they don’t feel comfortable attending in person. That being said high school students will still be required to pass five subject specific tests in order to graduate. Should testing move forward, or should students be excused for another year considering the current situation?
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