We Need a Nationwide Assessment Waiver
As students and their families face the uncertainty of a prolonged school shut down, the Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY) Network fully supports the appeal from State Board of Education President Dr. Casandra Ulbrich and State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to grant a nationwide waiver of statewide student assessments for 2019-2020.
We are absolutely convinced that federally mandated state testing must be waived this year in favor of focusing on the more immediate needs of children. As the letter states,
“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 added. “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.”
There is no question that the academic progress of students in Michigan and their peers across the country has been disrupted and will continue to be impacted by the prolonged absence from the school environment. Despite online offerings on behalf of many school districts, ultimately the work will be largely enrichment only. Districts will continue instruction where they left off before the closure, and will resume, hopefully, in April. As the situation is obviously fluid, it is impossible to determine when students will return to school.
Regardless of the ultimate date of return, the validity and reliability of statewide student assessments is already compromised for the school year. As such, it would be tantamount to educational malpractice to administer these exams after what has happened in our larger society regarding the novel coronavirus.
Once school resumes, educators throughout the state need the opportunity to reconnect with students, rebuild community, and begin our educational experiences again. We are resolute that there is no place for statewide assessments in this process.
We sincerely hope that Secretary DeVos prioritizes the well-being of our nation’s students and waves the statewide assessment requirement for this most unprecedented school year.
The Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY) Network, comprised of state Teachers of the Year and finalists for the award, seeks to influence education policy decisions at the federal, state and local levels. Michigan has recognized these educators — who serve as advocates for the profession by visiting schools throughout the state and serving on the State Board of Education — every year since 1952.