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With testing in full swing in most states and winding down for others, many questions remain. What’s the latest? Who is testing and who is not? What do parents think? How actionable will the data be?

Get some answers and recent article highlights below:

What’s the Latest?

  • Standardized tests returned this spring, many students will face shorter exams that carry lower stakes, and most families are being given the option to forgo testing entirely.
  • States are adopting testing plans that aim to curb the stress of exams while still capturing some data on student learning.
  • Some of the nation’s largest districts plan to test only a fraction of their students as many continue to learn remotely.
  • Despite lobbying efforts to cancel standardized tests entirely for a second year, states were told to test as many student as possible without requiring them to come in just for exams. The goal is to measure the pandemic’s impact and identify how to help students recover.
  • Acknowledging the challenges of the pandemic, states were invited to shorten or delay tests, and urged to ease the stakes for students.
  • The USDE later granted additional leniency to certain states, prompting criticism that it failed to set a clear bar.

Parent Positions?

  • Latest episode reveals parents are polarized on the testing topic.
  • Some are demanding tests to get a sense of their children’s progress.
  • Others see no need to put their children through that kind of stress.
  • Those who opposed testing say schools have other ways to evaluate students and testing only takes away from classroom time.

Who is Testing and Who is Not?

  • In New York City, students must opt in to be tested this year.
  • In Los Angeles, most students are not being asked to take state exams this year.
  • Other districts are scaling back questions or testing in fewer subjects.
  • Washington, D.C., was granted permission to cancel tests, but the agency rejected similar requests from Michigan, New York, and Georgia.
  • Requests to scale back testing were granted in Colorado and Oregon, while a plan to narrow the testing pool in Washington state was rejected.
  • Oregon’s two largest districts have voted to defy state orders and skip testing.
  • Michigan’s education chief has blasted the uneven flexibility granted to states.
  • School across Michigan have already used other tests to assess students, making more tests pointless.
  • Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington state have postponed tests, and it’s an option for districts in California.
  • In Tennessee and Arkansas, all healthy students are expected to take state exams in-person.
  • Arkansas is on track to test at least 95 percent of students, according to the state’s education department.

What of the Data?

  • Testing advocates maintain that there’s still value in collecting as much data as possible, stating imperfect results can help illuminate the scope of the problem schools face as they help students recover.
  • Expecting incomplete data, experts state our country will have to commit to tracking and learning about for at least the next few years, and maybe the next decade.
  • This year, most states are focusing on measuring student growth and letting schools and students off the hook for the results.
  • The inconsistency between states now makes a broad analysis impossible.
  • However, this year’s results will have value and will provide a foundation to measure against.

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