DeVos to State Education Leaders: Don’t Expect Waivers For Annual Testing

DeVos to State Education Leaders: Don’t Expect Waivers For Annual Testing

September 3, 2020

After months of uncertainty, education leaders, teachers, researchers, and advocates received an answer to whether state annual assessments would resume this school year following an abrupt cancellation this past spring due to the coronavirus. In a letter to all state superintendents – not just the small handful who had already begun seeking a second assessment waiver – Secretary DeVos said annual, summative assessments are “at the very core” of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 and are “among the most reliable tools available to help us understand how are performing in school.” For those reasons, DeVos writes, states “should not anticipate such waivers being granted again.” State education leaders were quick to respond to the decision, though reactions ranged from denunciation to understanding. Under ESSA, states must administer an annual, summative assessment to capture student achievement in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science for use in accountability plans and to meet transparency reporting requirements. Widespread cancellation of testing this spring was the first time that a nationwide assessment waiver has been issued since the passage of the landmark education law.