Advance Notice: Briefs

Feds say standardized tests won’t be waived

By: - February 24, 2021 10:39 am

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Schools will still have to administer federal standardized testing this year, according to the new Biden administration, but the regulations will be more lenient than in years past. 

On Monday, Biden’s team announced that schools won’t receive a waiver for the required testing, but states have the flexibility to create shorter exams, offer remote options and extend the testing window. 

“State assessment and accountability systems play an important role in advancing educational equity,” Acting Assistant Education Secretary Ian Rosenblum wrote in a letter to state education leaders. “At the same time, it is clear that the pandemic requires significant flexibility for the 2020-2021 school year so that states can respond to the unique circumstances they are facing, keep students, staff, and their families safe and maintain their immediate focus on supporting students’ social, emotional and academic development.”

During the 2019-20 school year, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos granted Michigan federal waivers for the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) and the SAT exams while the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered school buildings in the spring. However, standardized tests were not waived this fall for the current school year.

In January, state Superintendent Michael Rice requested another waiver for the state’s standardized tests, but this latest announcement from the Biden administration does not look promising.

“It is urgent to understand the impact of COVID-19 on learning. We know, however, that some schools and school districts may face circumstances in which they are not able to safely administer statewide summative assessments this spring using their standard practices,” Rosenblum wrote. 

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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.