The COVID-19 related school closures this spring, and now the need to safely reopen schools in the fall, have brought into stark relief that the lack of high-quality instruction and engagement has hit our most vulnerable students the hardest. In this time of uncertainty, data from spring statewide assessments will help ensure that every student counts and is receiving the education they need to graduate from high school, go on to post-secondary opportunities and reach their fullest potential. Without the comparable and consistent data that we get from statewide assessments, we aren’t able to know the extent to which this crisis has impacted students’ learning.
Unfortunately, a small handful of states have begun a siege against assessments and are seeking federal waivers for the 2021 assessment season.
That’s why last week the Collaborative joined with 18 education, advocacy, civil rights and business organizations, including the Data Quality Campaign, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Urban League in sending a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and members of the Senate and House education committees urging federal authorities to not grant testing waivers in the upcoming school year.
Education inequities are not a recent phenomenon and we are already seeing how they will likely continue to be exacerbated throughout and following the end of the pandemic. The coalition asserts that without this data, state leaders would not be able to 1) Provide transparency to parents and communities; 2) Strategically and equitably allocate resources; 3) Calculate measures of student academic growth, and 4) Find and learn from schools beating the odds.
The coalition letter follows a statement and guidance from the Council of Chief State Schools Officers detailing effective and informative use of data from both end-of-year summative assessments and a more informal diagnostic test when schools reopen.
As detailed in our memo released last month, public support remains strong for ensuring educators and parents have reliable data. This thought was summed up nicely by FutureEd contributor Lynn Olsen during our July Assessment HQ event focused on summative assessments: “…the pandemic has taught us that abandoning data doesn’t make tackling an issue any easier. Now more than ever we need good data on how our students are doing, socially and emotionally, and academically in order to thrive.”