Biden administration orders schools to administer standardized test

    States can apply for exemption from accountability measures tied to the results

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    The U.S. Department of Education announced Monday that schools must administer standardized tests this year during the coronavirus pandemic. 

    In a letter to state education leaders, acting Assistant Education Secretary Ian Rosenblum wrote that the Biden administration will not consider “blanket waivers of assessments,” but schools will be given the flexibility to delay testing or hold it online. Schools also won’t be held accountable for the results of how students perform, chalkbeat.org reports. 

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    “To be successful once schools have re-opened, we need to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on learning and identify what resources and supports students need,” Rosenblum wrote.

    President Joe Biden is shown meeting with Democratic senators in the Oval Office Wednesday to discuss his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. He met with Republican senators the day before. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

    Regular standardized testing was canceled last year amid school closures due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the topic continues to divide the education community.

    “As the educators in the classroom, we have always known that standardized tests are not the best way to measure a child’s development, nor do they particularly help kids or inform best practices for teaching and learning,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union,  wrote in the statement.  “That is especially true in these unprecedented times, when students and teachers alike are remaking the school experience in the most unlikely of circumstances.”

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    Several states are reportedly planning to request a waiver from this year’s testing requirements, including California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York.

    “Certainly, we do not believe that if there are places where students are unable to attend school safely in person because of the pandemic that they should be brought into school buildings for the sole purpose of taking a test,” wrote Rosenblum.

    Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., called out the Biden administration for offering flexibility “in exchange for states’ acceptance of unrelated new requirements.” She urged Biden to do better when it comes to reopening schools.

    “Families are demanding it and students desperately need it,” Foxx said in a statement. “And where flexibility with federal requirements is needed, I call on the president to offer them without conditions as the law requires.”

    The letter notes that additional flexibility will be considered on a state-by-state basis.

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