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Feds offer more time for states to request waivers of student testing requirements

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Congress | Federal COVID-19 TEA | Commissioner | SBOE Testing | Accountability

Date Posted: 2/01/2021 | Author: Mark Wiggins

The U.S. Department of Education under President Joe Biden is giving states additional time to file requests for a waiver of federal testing and accountability requirements this year. 

The move comes in the wake of announcements from New York and Michigan officials that they do not believe state assessments can be safely and fairly administered this semester due to the ongoing pandemic.  

The department sent a letter last week informing chief state school officers that the February 1 deadline for submitting a waiver request will be extended, but they did not say for how long or whether such requests would be approved. 

Under President Trump, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos waived federal testing requirements after schools were forced to close as a result of the pandemic in 2020, but DeVos warned that she would not grant an additional waiver for 2021 if she remained education secretary.  

The Senate confirmation hearing for Dr. Miguel Cardona, the Connecticut education commissioner and Biden administration’s nominee for education secretary, is scheduled for Wednesday. Cardona has spoken in favor of administering state tests this spring, provided the results are not used for assessing teachers and schools, but he has not said publicly whether he would approve a waiver request. 

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said last week he would not waive the STAAR test even if the federal government were to grant a waiver. Gov. Greg Abbott waived grade-promotion and accountability requirements tied to this year’s STAAR, and Morath has argued the test should be used to track academic progress.  

ATPE and other education organizations have urged the state to waive the STAAR altogether, arguing that its usefulness in tracking student academic progress is limited and only imposes additional burdens on already beleaguered students and educators. 

Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates on the spring STAAR administration and our ongoing advocacy efforts. 


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