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States: Ask Biden Administration to Waive Spring 2021 Testing

January 1, 2021

This is a school year fraught with quarantine disruption, turnstile attendance, distancing and sanitizing burdens, and spotty internet capabilities.

The very idea that most schools and districts could somehow pull off federally-mandated standardized testing in the spring of 2021 and that the testing outcome would evidence anything other than the schisms of this cubist painting of a year is nothing more than bureaucratic lunacy.

What would be the point, other than to give tests for testing’s sake?

Oh, but we need to know who is *falling behind.*

In this footrace in which all participants’ shoelaces have been tied together to some degree, assume everyone is falling behind. We don’t need tests to tell us as much.

Call it pandemic-induced common sense.

Spring 2021 testing is an unwelcome burden. As such, I expect states to seek waivers from those federally-mandated tests from the incoming Biden administration. Indeed, on New Years Eve, Montana’s request for a 2021 testing waiver was in the news — including a Plan B should the federal waiver be denied:

HELENA – A request to waive Montana’s federally mandated state standardized tests will be submitted by Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

The tests include general assessments and alternate assessments for math and English/language arts, including the ACT according to a release from the Office of Public Instruction (OPI). …

“Families and educators are focused on assessing student learning at the local level while ensuring our communities are safe. The last thing that they need to worry about is a high-stakes standardized test,” Superintendent Arntzen said. “It is important to ensure any test provides meaningful data for learning, but due to COVID-19, the likelihood of receiving reliable and useful data from these assessments is low.”

If a waiver is not granted, the OPI says  Superintendent Arntzen has implemented a considerably shortened assessment which will reduce testing time to support schools and preserve instructional time. 

Though a number of organizations are calling for the Biden administration to nix the federal tests in spring 2021, Montana is the first state to publicize its decision to seek a testing waiver from the new administration.

Given the state of pandemic education across the nation, Montana is likely the first of many.

New administration, new opportunity. States, get your test-waiver paperwork together.


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  1. speduktr permalink

    “…Montana is likely the first of many.”

    I sincerely hope so.

  2. Richard Holsworth permalink

    The term “learning loss” comes from the language of test enthusiasts. For them, learning is a substance that’s poured into students over time. Plutarch famously wrote that minds are not vessels to be filled but fires to be kindled. Fires don’t leak. You don’t measure them in months. Learning loss is a calculation masquerading as a concept—a rather shallow, naïve, ridiculous concept.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: States Should Ask for Waivers for Spring Testing | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. EDUCATION MYTHS OF 2021 – Dad Gone Wild

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