Standards and Assessments

Below are the most recent news, reports, and recommendations around standards and assessments.

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

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…

State Personalized Learning Plans Need Common Definition, More Support, Researchers Say

Two researchers at the University of Kansas have released their analysis of state “personalized learning” policies, as demonstrated by each state’s ESSA accountability plan. The authors found little consensus on conceptual frameworks or definitions for how personalized learning models ought to be utilized in schools,…

South Carolina DOE Survey Gathers Public Feedback on Assessment Waiver

After having announced their intent to request a second waiver of federally-required standardized assessments, the South Carolina Department of Education has created a survey to collect public feedback on the move. Though required by ESSA, State Superintendent Molly Spearman said “it is critical that students,…

Using Data to Strengthen Arts Education During and After Pandemic

A partnership between the Education Commission of the States and the National Endowment of the Arts resulted in a toolkit designed to help school systems, education leaders, advocates, and researchers capitalize on publicly reported state education data to improve access to quality arts education. Under…

U.S. Department of Education Seeks New Data on Pandemic’s Effect on Schools

In a recent notice, the U.S. Department of Education proposed collecting new data on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the ways in which states use federal aid and flexibility. Specifically, the department is interested in reviewing state data pertaining to federally granted waivers of…

Virginia’s School Ratings Waived for Second Year

Following the cancellation of state testing for the 2019-20 school year due to the spread of COVID-19, Virginia will waive its accreditation ratings for schools for the second year in a row. Data from the Virginia Standards of Learning tests, annually required by ESSA, typically…

Reidy Interactive Lecture Series: The Pandemic’s Impact on Assessment and Accountability

In the first completely online Reidy Interactive Lecture Series, the Center for Assessment is focusing on the “implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for assessment and accountability.” Beginning in August and continuing through September, the online series includes webinars discussing the status of summative assessments and…

Secretary DeVos Pushing for In-Person Student Learning Despite Rising Coronavirus Cases

As states continue to navigate the specifics of starting the school year amid a global pandemic, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has communicated an expectation to states, districts, and even educators that student learning will continue despite localized virus realities. In driving forward this message,…

Texas to Change Grade Level Requirements with STAAR Tests

Adding to the ongoing conversations around the use of assessments in the upcoming school year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed that the state’s standardized assessment, the STARR exam, will be administered. However, results from the tests will not be used to make decisions about a…

Top Education Official Argues Value of Assessments

In an online event for the Education Writers Association, Department of Education Assistant Secretary Jim Blew told reporters that the DOE’s “instinct” is to not grant state waivers of federal testing requirements, as established by the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. Blew stated, “There…

Kansas Improves Their Data Reporting of Students in Foster Care

Data of students in foster care is expected to become much more transparent in the Sunflower State. Early this month, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order that established “an annual education report card for students in foster care.” The report card will track…

New Analysis Suggests That Districts Should Be Held Accountable For Student Learning Too

Chad Aldeman of Bellwether Education Partners and Anne Hyslop of the Alliance for Excellent Education ask questions about the focus of accountability measures during and after the COVID-10 pandemic. If districts were, in most places, the entities setting up food distributions, purchasing Chromebooks, making decisions…

Indiana State Board of Education Seeks to Improve Literacy

The State Board of Education approved the optional use of the Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination (IREAD-3) for 4th-grade students for the upcoming fall 2020 term. The goal of the IREAD-3 is to help local education officials make data-driven decisions surrounding the literacy of their…

Georgia DOE Requests Input on Seeking Standardized Testing Waiver for 2020-2021 School Year with New Online Survey

As previously reported, Georgia has become the first state to announce its intent to seek a federal testing waiver for the 2020-21 academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Officials at the Georgia Department of Education are now asking the public for feedback on this…

New Mexico School District Values Arts Education

As the New Mexico Public Education Department considers a plan for reopening schools in the fall, Las Cruces Public Schools’ district officials are weighing options to prioritize arts education for their students in a post-pandemic environment. Under ESSA, “arts  education is part of a well-rounded…

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp To Seek Federal Testing Waiver for the 2020-21 Academic Year

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reports that Georgia will be the first state that will pursue a federal testing waiver for the 2020-21 academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic. This school year, Education Secretary Betsy Devos approved a one-year waiver that suspended “federally…

Alabama State DOE Announces Goals for Improvement

The Alabama State Department of Education has released a new plan outlining measurable goals to improve student achievement, including: “1) Academic Growth and Achievement; 2) College, career, and workforce preparedness; 3) Safe and supportive learning environments; 4) Highly effective educators; 5) and Customer-friendly services.” The…

Think Tank Gives Guidance on how to Measure COVID Slide Learning Loss for EL Students

A new policy brief from the Migration Policy Institute “explores the policy and practical questions for states considering implementing native-language assessments,” which may more effectively measure student knowledge and allow educators to identify gaps in English-language instruction. The brief comes at a time when many…

Virginia Department of Education Considers Assessments in Guidance for 2020-21 School Year

Barring a federal waiver of standardized testing requirements as outlined by the Every Student Succeeds Act in the next school year, Virginia officials are preparing plans to ensure that assessments can be given in the spring of 2021. The state’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests…

More Than 50 Organizations Unite to Advocate for Arts Education

A group of more than 50 arts and education organizations released a statement, “Arts Education Is Essential,” underscoring the role that the arts have played—both during the ongoing health crisis as well as its importance in general for all students, “including those who are in…

Coalition Pushes Congress to Ease Special Education Funding Mandate in Light of Pandemic

A coalition of education organizations is pushing Congress “to waive a provision in federal law that requires school districts to maintain consistent funding levels for special education from year to year.” The “maintenance of effort” provision, part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is…

The Way We Evaluate Student Progress Will Need to Change in Post-Pandemic World

An editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch outlines a problem educators nationwide are grappling with: how to most effectively measure student progress in a post-pandemic world. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, all 50 states have asked the U.S. Department of Education to waive standardized…

DeVos Focuses on Special Ed Teachers in Voucher Push

“After years of frustration in her attempts to expand education choice, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is picking up steam,” writes Andrew Ujifusa for Education Week. “Fresh evidence that DeVos is continuing her push to prioritize choice with federal funds can be found in…

New Brookings Report Looks at NAEP Civics Results

In this new report, the Brookings Institution takes a look at the recent release of the National Center of Education Statistics’ results from the 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) civics assessment to answer whether public schools are living up to their “core mission”…

Massachusetts Receives Federal Approval to Develop Innovative Science Assessment

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education gave Massachusetts the green light to “pilot a new kind of science test for fifth and eighth-grade students” as part of a federal innovative assessment program for the 2020-2021 school year. This approval will give the state the…