Report by Paula Antolini, March 24, 2020, 2:23PM EDT
WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced on March 20, 2020, students impacted by school closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-2020 school year. Upon a proper request, the Department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year.
Secretary DeVos commented: “Students need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn. Teachers need to be able to focus on remote learning and other adaptations. Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time. Students are simply too unlikely to be able to perform their best in this environment. Our actions today provide turnkey flexibilities for state and local leaders to focus on the immediate needs of their students and educators without worrying about federal repercussions. I’ve spoken with many local education leaders in the past days, and I’m inspired by their efforts to help their students continue to learn and grow. We’re going to continue to provide every flexibility possible to help make that as simple as possible.”
In response to the extraordinary public health threat posed by COVID-19, President Donald J. Trump declared a national emergency. As a result, many states have closed some or all schools. Therefore, a state unable to assess its students may seek a waiver from federal testing requirements by completing a form available at oese.ed.gov. At the Secretary’s direction, the Department has dramatically streamlined the application process to make it as simple as possible for state leaders who are grappling with many complex issues.
To protect students’ health and safety, a state that deems it necessary should proceed with cancelling its statewide assessments for the 2019-2020 school year. Since student performance, as measured by assessments, is required to be used in statewide accountability systems, any state that receives a one-year waiver may also receive a waiver from the requirement that this testing data be used in the statewide accountability system due to the national emergency.
The Department will continue to speak with state and local leaders to identify any additional needed flexibilities, and it remains in coordination with Congress on expanding the range of flexibilities available to the Department under law.
The Department continues to update www.ed.gov/coronavirus with information for students, parents, educators and local leaders about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For additional resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19, please visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.