Could Biden Find a Middle Path on Student Testing During the Pandemic?
December 3, 2020
The appetite for data on how the pandemic has affected student learning will confront the Biden administration with a tough decision: whether to waive the main federal K-12 law's requirement for annual assessments. While tension is only likely to grow about that choice, it's worth exploring how the new president could provide states flexibility on this front while still keeping political sensitivities in mind.
First, those recent developments: Last week, the federal government announced a postponement of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the "nation's report card," considered to be the gold standard of assessment in schools. In response, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking Democrat on the Senate education committee, said this decision made it critical for states to administer exams mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act.
On Tuesday, a Northwest Evaluation Association study showed a greater toll on students' academic growth in math than in reading, according to assessments given in the fall. But a host of questions surround the results. Late last month, we also surveyed how states are downplaying the role of standardized exams this year when it comes to student and school accountability.