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Millions of students nationwide sat for state tests this month. Most parents will want to know how their child(ren) did. I know I do. Like others, I want to k now if my child performed on grade lvel, did he show a year’s worth of growth from last year? Caregivers and educators need test results as soon as possible to make critical decisions for next steps for the students who are depending on them to provide the highest quality of education.

  • If history is any guide, we probably won’t have the results of spring 2023 testing for months.
  • Congress needs to step in and require states to send preliminary score reports back to families and teachers very quickly.
  • Many school district leaders are working to develop interventions to help address these gaps, but students aren’t signing up for the summer-school, after-school, or tutoring programs that are being offered.
  • Caregivers could be receptive audiences and engaged as partners to help boost participation rates, but only if they’re given time and space to do so.

The Problem

  • State test results are too slow.
    • Only five states released their results in June or July, in advance of the new school year.
    • 10 released results in August, just before or right around the start of the new year.
    • 35 states and the District of Columbia all released their results in September or later.
  • Why aren’t states releasing their results faster?
    • It’s likely not a technical problem. States have been administering annual tests for two decades, and the tests themselves are now routinely taken on computers.
    • This suggests the delays are mostly a function of political processes. 
  • States have configured their testing systems more as a compliance exercise in response to the federal testing mandate, at the expense of timely and actionable information to parents and educators.
  • The feds have not been helpful in this regard.
    • Congress imposed a long list of data points that must be included and disaggregated on school report cards.
    • It is silent about how fast the results must be relayed to parents, teachers, or the public.
  • We need a new thumb on the scale to make the state tests timely and actionable for the intended users.

The Solution

  • Require states to release results to caregivers and educators within two weeks.
  • States could take more time to produce vetted results for public accountability purposes, but the preliminary results would provide immediate, actionable information to the people in the best positions to act.
  • Some states already choose to send score reports back to caregivers and educators earlier than the public release, but a quick return of results should be the standard operating practice across the country, and that will only happen with congressional action.
    • School and district leaders could also make much better use of their summer time if they had faster results.
    • Caregivers are looking for fast results to prepare for extra learning supports this summer, or even consider a different school next year.
    • Teachers also anxiously await results to adjust their lesson plans for next year based on students’ performance.
    • Principals need results to assign students in need of extra support to their best teachers next year, respond to schoolwide challenges, such as problems with early reading skills.
    • District leaders might adopt different curricula—and provide staff the time and training to adapt—or change school-level staffing levels.
    • State administrators need to be nudged to focus on speed and getting test results back to caregivers and educators as quickly as possible.


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