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Superintendent Reykdal delays state tests for students over ‘inequitable access for remote learners’

Most students are learning virtually this fall. (Seattle Public Schools, Facebook)

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced Wednesday that he will be delaying general state tests for students.

As a result, students will no longer be taking the state’s Smarter Balanced Assessments and the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science this spring, with those tests now delayed until the fall.

Reykdal’s office made the call based on a variety of factors, including concerns over “inequitable access to supports for remote learners,” especially with most of the school year having been conducted virtually due to the pandemic.

The decision was also driven by larger, overarching issues cited by Reykdal regarding federal testing requirements.

“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,” he said in a Wednesday blog post. “Summative assessments are one way to measure our progress, but they should no longer drive our strategies.”

Initially, OSPI had planned “to test a statistically representative sample of students this spring instead of doing full testing as usual.” But after determining that the U.S. Department of Education was not offering enough flexibility on its requirements based on that proposal, the decision was made to do away with the test this spring entirely.

OSPI also clarified that delaying these tests until the fall won’t ultimately run afoul of the federal government’s rules.

“The Superintendent isn’t defying the Education Department,” a spokesperson told KIRO Radio. “We are allowed to move our testing window to the fall, and we’ve made the choice to do so.”

The state still plans to move forward this spring with tests for “state-identified English learners as well as for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities,” but is also “exploring” reopening that testing window in the fall as well.

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