It’s difficult to talk about the state of assessment for back-to-school season 2021 when the current picture of the next school year still seems so unclear. Although states were given waivers for their assessment requirements in spring 2020, the U.S. Department of Education is calling for state testing to resume in spring 2021. To respond to the current challenges states now face, the federal government is allowing for greater flexibility in how and when testing takes place.
The absence of testing last spring—and the specter of a perilous testing season in spring 2021—has left many educators wondering about how to address gaps in their understanding of student progress. The challenge is understanding the role of and need for formal testing and what those assessment systems should look like come this fall.
When the school year resumes, regardless of where we are, the disruptions of the past year will continue to impact instruction in different ways. How each state implements its testing this spring will also have implications for this fall when it comes to assessment and making instructional decisions. Given this uncertainty, there are several considerations for school administrators to think about at this time. Here is a set of key questions administrators should ask as they begin their preparations.
How will we assess eligibility for special programs?
With the possibility of modified testing conditions and the potential for significant numbers of missing students this spring, districts that usually use state assessment data to determine eligibility for special programs, such as intervention, may need to instead rely on alternative sources—for instance, teacher recommendations, course grades, and locally-administered interim benchmark assessments like HMH Growth Measure with Waggle.
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