Nov 26, 2020 - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo of four students taking a standardized test in a classroom

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

The big picture: The biennial National Assessment of Education Progress was planned for fourth and eighth graders early next year, but health protocols and online learning posed challenges, NCES Commissioner James Woodworth said in a statement.

  • NCES uses shared equipment and sends outside proctors to administer the tests, which falls outside of COVID health guidelines.
  • The test is also taken at the same across the country; this year that is “impractical as COVID infection rates differ greatly from state to state during any one time,” Woodworth said.
  • Moving forward with the test in 2021 would cost “tens of millions of dollars,” Woodworth added, suggesting that states step in to fill the gap next year.

Between the lines: State testing was canceled earlier this year under federal waivers. Some educators are concerned the postponement of national tests will lead states to follow in NCES' footsteps.

The bottom line: That would create a multi-year gap in data on students’ learning.

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