Advance Notice: Briefs

DeVos: States can skip standardized tests due to coronavirus

By: - March 20, 2020 3:36 pm

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The U.S. Department of Education will waive standardized testing requirements for states unable to test students because of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

States can request waivers of federally-mandated tests during the ongoing national emergency, according to a news release.

This came after state Superintendent Michael Rice and state Board of Education President Casandra Ulbrich on Tuesday wrote a letter to DeVos Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asking her to reconsider her decision last week that a waiver would only be permitted if the window for state testing overlapped with the school closure period. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer backed their request.

DeVos, a West Michigan native, in Friday’s release said students “need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn,” and teachers “need to be able to focus on remote learning and other adaptations” during the emergency.

“Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time,” DeVos said. “Students are simply too unlikely to be able to perform their best in this environment.”

The waivers are meant to allow state and local leaders flexibility and ease their concerns about possible federal repercussions, according to the department. Testing waivers can be found online

Admissions tests required by several universities and colleges for enrollment consideration are also canceled or postponed because of the pandemic. The College Board, which administers the SAT, canceled its May 2 test date and March makeup test dates. An ACT test date for April 4 has also been rescheduled for June 13.

Michigan and several other states have shuttered K-12 schools in response to the growing threat of COVID-19 and how it could easily spread in school environments. Public, private and boarding schools are set to stay closed in Michigan until April 5, per Whitmer’s March 13 order. 

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C.J. Moore
C.J. Moore

C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.