State Department of Education seeking to skip standardized tests this year
24 states have received waivers from federal government
The Maryland State Department of Education will ask the federal government for permission to not administer standardized tests this year, another indication that K-12 schools will remain shuttered beyond this week.
During a meeting Tuesday afternoon, the state Board of Education voted unanimously to let education officials pursue a waiver exempting schools from administering state tests this spring. The tests, covering multiple content areas, are intended to measure what students know and have retained throughout the academic year.
Results from the tests, required through the Every Student Succeeds Act, are used to develop the Maryland state report cards, released annually. The report cards grade each school’s overall performance based on indicators like reading literacy, graduation rates and chronic absenteeism.
President Donald Trump on Friday announced that his administration would waive federal requirements for standardized tests for kindergarten through 12th-grade students because many schools across the country are closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus. States are not automatically granted the waivers, and must apply for them.
The school closures come in the middle of the traditional testing season.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said states can apply for and receive a waiver from both administering standardized tests and the requirement that testing data be used for accountability models.
There was no discussion among state Board of Education members about the move to apply for the waiver, but Department of Education Assistant Superintendent Mary Gable said 24 other states had applied for and received waivers from the federal government.
More than 1,400 schools across Maryland have been closed since March 16 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The move was intended to slow the spread of the disease by preventing students and staff from congregating in buildings. Both local and state officials have suggested the closures will extend into April or beyond, but no official announcements had been made as of Tuesday afternoon.
Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday said he expects to make a schools-related announcement in the coming days, but did not elaborate. Schools are now scheduled to resume operations on Monday if there is no further closure.
Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith has said the district is preparing now for distance learning, with the expectation that the school closures will continue. More information about a long-term remote teaching plan is expected this week.
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