California local assessments may be an option if statewide tests aren’t viable during pandemic.

Highlights include the following:

  • California may not need to submit a waiver application to the U.S. Department of Education to implement its academic testing plan.
  • How and when to administer statewide standardized tests is part of the re-opening challenges.
  • No blanket waivers from federal and state requirements for states in 2021; other flexibilities offered.
  • California has already submitted a waiver request for other flexibilities, such as extending the timeline for all tests until July 30 and removing the consequences of having less than 95% participation, to the U.S. Department of Education for approval.
  • On April 2, California submitted a letter to the USDE regarding its academic testing plan, including the use of alternative assessments this year in situations where it is not viable for districts to administer those assessments due to challenges such as assuring COVID-19 safety or broadband limitations while students are at home.
  • In March, California’s State Board of Education approved its plan to seek a waiver that would allow districts to choose a diagnostic, benchmark or other interim assessment where it is not viable to administer the state summative assessments and laid out its criteria for alternatives.
  • Last November, the state board approved a shortened version of the Smarter Balanced math and English language arts tests. Remote proctoring tools were also built into the Smarter Balanced testing system.
  • Concerns about the validity of data collected after a traumatizing year have been raised, as many students remain in a mix of reopening scenarios. Additional concerns have been raised about potential data misrepresentation if districts use different assessments or participation rate is lower.
  • “When we look at all of this we want to make sure we have meaningful information, valid and reliable information about where students are,” said Brooks Allen, Executive Director of the State Board of Education.

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