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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.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.