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Collaborative Director Jim Cowen – Statement Following Senate Confirmation Hearing for Dr. Miguel Cardona for Education Secretary

On February 3, 2021, Jim Cowen, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, published the below statement following the Senate confirmation hearing for Dr. Miguel Cardona to be Education secretary:

We commend Dr. Cardona for emphasizing during his Senate confirmation hearing today how critical a role student assessments play in helping educators and school leaders identify and address long-standing equity and opportunity gaps – gaps that Cardona acknowledged have only been exacerbated during the pandemic.

The Collaborative joined 18 civil rights and education organizations, including the National Urban League and UnidosUS, in urging Dr. Cardona, if confirmed, to refrain from issuing blanket waivers that would allow states to bypass the administration of student assessments this spring.

‘We recognize that statewide assessments are only one measure of student learning, and assessments alone will not address systemic discrimination and inequity in our education system. But right now – when students who have historically been underserved are bearing the brunt of the impact from the pandemic – waiving assessments will only make it harder to identify and address one of the most inequitable school years in history. The data from summative assessments will shine a light on deep inequities and allow us to pave a way forward,’ the letter says.

With this support, we are lending our voice to the views of national civil rights organizations, business groups and education advocates and parents on the issue of assessments.

We believe that tests should be administered this year in order to measure learning loss and then use that data to target interventions and resources accordingly. However, as schools nationwide grapple with the pandemic, we recognize that states should be afforded flexibility in how scores are used for accountability. As Sens. Tim Kaine and Chris Murphy expressed during the hearing, there are conversations to be had moving forward on the topic of potentially adjusting accountability requirements so we can best meet the needs of students.

About the Collaborative for Student Success

At our core, we believe leaders at all levels have a role to play in ensuring success for K-12 students. From ensuring schools and teachers are equipped with the best materials to spotlighting the innovative and bold ways federal recovery dollars are being used to drive needed changes, the Collaborative for Student Success aims to inform and amplify policies making a difference for students and families.

To recover from the most disruptive event in the history of American public schools, states and districts are leveraging unprecedented resources to make sure classrooms are safe for learning, providing students and teachers with the high-quality instructional materials they deserve, and are rethinking how best to measure learning so supports are targeted where they’re needed most. 

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