Advance Notice: Briefs

DeVos refuses state testing waivers for current school year

By: - September 4, 2020 8:45 am

Betsy DeVos | Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

After requests from state leaders to waive spring state assessments this school year, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos informed state Superintendent Michael Rice Thursday that Michigan should not anticipate any waivers to the federal requirement.

In June, Rice and State Board of Education President Casandra Ulbrich requested DeVos continue waiving the federal requirements for student assessments and school accountability for the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Education did so in March when schools nationwide shut their doors while COVID-19 cases surged.

Dems urge DeVos to waive standardized testing next school year

“We agree with the need to know where children are academically in a pandemic, but strongly disagree with the need to use spring state summative assessments for this purpose,” Rice said. “Recent state law requires benchmark assessments in the fall and in the spring of this school year for this purpose. We will be re-applying this winter for federal waivers from statewide summative test administration.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said DeVos “should do the right thing and waive these requirements for our kids.”

“From forcing high-stakes testing on our young children during a global pandemic to trying to strip dollars away from schools in need of critical funding, Betsy DeVos has proven time and again that she doesn’t share our priorities for protecting and improving public education,” Whitmer said. “This virus has had an unprecedented impact on our kids, and forcing them to take these assessments during a time when families everywhere are working around the clock to stay safe is cruel.”

Under the bipartisan “return to learn” school reopening plan Whitmer signed last month, students also will be required to take a local standardized benchmark test within the first 30 days of the school year. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.