What will the cancellation of spring testing mean?

What will the cancellation of spring testing mean?

By Dale Chu

Over the last week, we’ve been monitoring state movement on spring testing with our COVID-19 end-of-year assessment tracker. Given the trend, it’s become clear that by the end of the week all states are going to have a testing waiver and will not be testing this spring. With that in mind, we’re going to start looking ahead at the ramifications of this nationwide cancellation of testing, and in future posts explore possibilities for how states might make some lemonade from this.

To be clear, the cancellation of testing is completely justified in light of the still growing public health crisis. States deserve credit for everything they’re doing to safeguard our children, teachers, and families. But it’s hard to overstate the useful information that is potentially lost without testing. I say “potentially” because there’s no hard and fast rule that says the end of the school year is set in stone or that testing couldn’t be delayed to sometime in the fall. Yes, it seems unlikely, but the past few weeks have been precedent shattering already, so I’m not ready to rule anything out given how interwoven tests are into the fabric of our education system.

How so? For starters, tests help to keep our schools on track and our students on the same general trajectory. The data provided is embedded into state accountability systems and the public information we share with parents and other stakeholders, to say nothing of the valuable research linked to testing that is essential to properly targeting limited resources and attention. Since testing data is reported for all students and student groups, it is also an equity linchpin.

As we’ve learned from the COVID-19 testing debacle, the value of valid and reliable information is universal. The good news is we’ll get through this crisis, but now is a good time to start thinking about what comes next. Stay tuned.

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