Teachers, parents, policymakers, and advocates all need a complete and consistent picture of how students fared during disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Annual statewide assessments are critical to providing meaningful data on student learning because the results help inform instruction, plan for recovery, and strategically allocate constrained budgets and new federal relief funds.
The Education Department last year rightly made the decision to waive federal testing requirements at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic given that our nation was moving into lockdown right as the spring testing window was opening.
This spring — a year into the pandemic — educators, policymakers, and civil rights organizations are drawing attention to the need for objective data that comes from state assessments to inform recovery efforts, address student learning loss, and ultimately drive the nation’s education system to be stronger than before the pandemic. They are calling on the newly installed administration of President Joe Biden to maintain the federal commitment to annual testing and not allow waivers this year.
The results will help educators and parents understand the impact of COVID-19 and help education leaders know how to target resources to meet the needs of students – no matter their race, income, disability or where they live.
Already, while waiting on guidance from the Biden administration, states have slowly begun taking action on the issue – with states like Utah, Texas, and Arkansas vocalizing their need for a complete picture of the pandemic’s impact on students and announcing their intent to move forward with administering assessments this spring.
As the confirmation of President Biden’s choice for Education Secretary, Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, rapidly approaches, help us highlight the need for objective, clear information on student learning by signing and sending a petition to incoming federal officials. Educators, parents, and district and leaders should not be left to make decisions flying blind without actionable data and you can help us deliver that message.