Collaborative Director Jim Cowen – Statement on 2021 Education Next Survey Results

On September 1, 2021, Collaborative for Student Success Director Jim Cowen released the following statement in response to the release of the 2021 Education Next Survey results:

This week, Education Next released results from its annual nationally representative survey of Americans in which 70% of the general public expressed support for the continued requirement by the federal government for states to test students annually in math and reading.

The findings, which follow other surveys that reflect similar support for assessments, suggest that the public is ready to double down on efforts to measure student learning and progress during the COVID-19 pandemic and to use the data to get kids and schools back on track.

We recognize students, teachers, and parents have undergone enormous difficulties over the last year and deserve incredible grace during our national recovery. But to get out of this pandemic, we must know the impact that extended school closures have had on student progress. That is the only way we can apply the needed support—the dollars and the services necessary to confront the issue.

That is why we are encouraged to see strong and growing support for statewide, summative assessments. We urge education leaders to heed parent and educator support for measuring learning, as well as listen to calls from prominent civil rights, business, and education advocacy organizations who say that without data, the performance of our most vulnerable students may once again be swept under the rug.

This statement adds to strong, existing public support for administering statewide annual assessments this year, including:

Parent Support

Results from a national survey conducted by the National Parent Teacher Association and released on Feb. 22 found that 52% of parents “favor end-of-year testing this spring to measure the impact of the pandemic on student learning.” Additionally, 60% of parents were concerned that their child may behind and want more information on where their child is academically.

The nonprofit Learning Heroes found in its Parents 2020 study that 70% of parents say that want to know what material their child has missed as a result of the pandemic and what their school plans to do to address the missed classroom time.

Civil Rights Support

Following the Education Department decision to maintain the commitment to testing this school year, more than 40 national and state-based civil rights and education organizations issued a letter commending the department for not considering blanket waivers, stating “Parents and families deserve to know whether their children are meeting college- and career-ready expectations and whether the education system is responding to and improving their opportunities to succeed.”

Educator Support

The Data Quality Campaign in June released the results of a national poll that found 89% of teachers agree that they want data about which of their students are furthest behind so that they can do their part to support students getting back on track. Also, 77% of parents agree that states should resume administration of end-of-year summative assessments in math and reading next year.

The Educators for Excellence’s “Voices from the Classroom” nationwide survey in January 2020 found that 92% of teachers support summative measures of student learning.

State Support

In Colorado, a recent poll by Keating Research finds that public support for a statewide assessment this spring to understand student learning loss is sky high, with the public supporting the need for a test by a whopping 62% – 25% margin.

Education Reform Now Advocacy released survey results in November that showed that 51% of parents surveyed in both Georgia and North Carolina and 67% of voters in Arizona supported administering assessments this spring.

The Collaborative for Student Success has additionally promoted petitions in Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan to urge state and federal education leaders to move forward with spring assessments so that all stakeholders have actionable data on student learning during the pandemic.

Business Support

On Feb. 20, the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies, issued a staunch statement in support of administering assessments this school year. “The damage to students’ academic foundations isn’t just a problem today — without data-driven interventions, it will hamstring our workforce for decades to come,” the group stated.

Other Public Support

In addition, prominent editorial boards from New York Times and the Washington Post have called for assessments to help measure student learning – with the New York Times noting that “given a shortage of testing data for Black, Hispanic and poor children, it could well be that these groups have fared worse in the pandemic than their white more affluent peers.”