State Officials Call for Nationwide Testing Waiver

Schools nationwide should be freed from mandates to administer state standardized assessments this spring in the wake of widespread school closures across the nation, Michigan education officials said in a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Students will need a focus on social-emotional connection and academic instruction to return to normalcy after the long absence from school, said the letter from State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice and State Board of Education chairwoman Dr. Casandra Ulbrich.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer order the statewide closure of schools from March 16 through April 5, and testing is scheduled to run from April 13 to May 28.

“It’s time for Betsy DeVos to do the right thing on behalf of our students and waive statewide assessments,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a press release. “When our kids get back to school, our number one priority must be ensuring they have the resources they need to get back on track.”

“For a variety of reasons, this is not simply an undesirable situation; it is a completely unacceptable one,” Ulbrich and Rice said in their letter to DeVos. “Many children will struggle with the long absence from school. It will take many districts a considerable period of time to resume normal functioning, not to mention refocusing on the instruction of children.”

Any state summative assessment results would not be an accurate reflection of student learning given the tremendous disruption in children’s education and lives during this extraordinary period, Rice added.

“Upon return to school, our focus nationally should be on instruction, supports, and nurturing of students, not on state summative assessments,” the letter to DeVos said. “By waiving the requirement nationally to provide state assessments under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, you help schools put students first and focus on providing the supports that students will need in the coming weeks and months.”

It remains unclear for how long the global pandemic due to the Coronavirus will require schools to stay closed.

Read the full letter.

And look for all of MDE’s coronavirus guidance here.

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