Delayed state tests will still show what happened in learning this year
By Monday, all students statewide will have the option to at least return to a hybrid in-person learning model, but there is one usual school activity that is being delayed, at least for now. Chris Reykdal, Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss what’s going on with state standardized tests this year.
“We wanted to do a really robust sample this spring that would tell us in great detail how disproportionately impactful this last learning year was for student groups by geography, by race, by modality,” Reykdal explained. “So how did students who are remote fair versus students who are mostly in person? The department [of education] was not excited about that. Their mantra right now is test as many students as you can with as many tests as you can.”
“So they insisted on that. Therefore, we made the decision to suspend all the standardized testing this spring and we’ll move it into the fall, which is consistent with their rules and regulations,” he added. “We just have to do it at some point in a year, so we’ll move assessments into the fall.”
Reykdal says the state spends between $30-40 million a year on tests from taxpayer money. If you test and have 40-60% of students not participate, he points out that while you don’t get “valid or reliable results,” you’re still spending the resources.
“It didn’t make any sense in a time when the mental health impacts on kids are so profound, and we have very little instructional time left in our year,” he said. “It just wasn’t the year to do federally mandated tests on kids in schools.”
“We could have saved a lot of time and money and gotten better results with a sample, but instead we’ll go [the federal government’s] route and instead push it out to the fall when we think virtually all of our students will be back and things will be a little more normal,” Reykdal said.
He added that the government already acknowledged they potentially wouldn’t get to 95% of students tested, and they weren’t insisting on testing students who are choosing to stay remote, but they did insist on testing.
“It’s an interesting ‘test, test, test’ mantra already coming out of the new administration,” Reykdal said.
To understand where K-12 students in Washington are at with their learning this past year, there are local assessments being done. Reykdal also says the tests in the fall will show what happened in 2020.
“We’ve got assessments that are required locally in the classroom. So your students are taking math or ELA assessments and teachers are using those already to determine how to create interventions and supports,” Reykdal explained.
“And now with the absence of being able to sample, we’ll use assessments in the fall and those tests will test the prior year,” he added. “So next year’s fourth graders will be tested on what they were learning in third grade. So we will get a good look at what happened, just not as real time as we had hoped.”
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