Washington Superintendent delays state tests to Fall 2021

Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. — On Wednesday afternoon, the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced that state assessments will not be administered in the Spring semester as usual. Instead, Superintendent Chris Reykdal will delay tests for the 2020-21 school year to Fall 2021.

The OSPI says it submitted accountability and state assessment waiver applications to the United States Department of Education late in March. Superintendent Reykdal does not believe that Washington has received the flexibility it needs for students, parents and teachers to prepare for this. He says that an accountability waiver has been approved by federal leaders, but it’s not enough.

“I have made the determination that Washington state will not be administering the Smarter Balanced Assessments or the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science this spring. Instead, our assessment window for the 2020–21 school year will be in the fall – a timeline consistent with guidance provided by the Department to satisfy federal testing requirements.”

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Instead of using statewide assessments, Washington will use locally determined assessments that will empower Washington educators to find a curriculum that better suits its students.

The federally mandated testing system that has been driving too much local decision-making for the past 20 years is not achieving the intended result of closing opportunity and achievement gaps. To be clear, we are closing gaps, but it is the everyday work of families, educators, school and district leaders, and community partners that’s having the biggest impact. Summative assessments are one way to measure our progress, but they should no longer drive our strategies.

Washington state put forward a bold and rigorous method to address state-level accountability that can be delivered at a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the time we currently spend testing our students. Without a rigorous sampling methodology, state assessments this spring would yield inequitable access to supports for remote learners, a substantial number of students and families opting out, and results that would not be reliable or actionable.

I want to thank the Department of Education for their consistent communication over the past several weeks. In the end, we had different values. They were seeking to test as many students as possible this spring, and we know this approach did not support the mental health of Washington’s students; nor is it the best use of our limited remaining in-person instructional hours this spring.

I look forward to working with the Department, members of Congress, and the State Legislature to craft an accountability and assessment system that is focused on student learning and the needs of educators to engage their students with timely and relevant supports.

Educators across the state can now focus on engaging their students and families over the last two months of school; supporting their academic and social-emotional needs as we prepare for a comprehensive opening of our public schools this fall.

For more information on the state’s plan for standardized testing in Fall 2021, click here.

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