At a conference call meeting yesterday of the State Board of Education (SBE) , members approved a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that the state be exempted from all federal testing requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. SBE is taking the action since North Carolina public schools are expected to be closed a minimum of eight weeks –maybe more — to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Education informed state officials last week of their decision to grant states flexibility regarding testing.
Testing is a requirement of receipt of federal funds and test results are used to measure student performance, accountability and also provide data for report card provisions. If the application is accepted, no testing will be done this year and no test results will be available. I’m sure the request is made with reluctance. However, it’s impossible for schools to cover the material in time and for schools to meet the standards of testing to produce valid results.
While students will be impacted, so too will teachers and administrators. Teachers are eligible for bonuses based on test results. That won’t happen this year. In addition, since no growth scores can be calculated for principals, they also won’t be receiving bonuses for meeting benchmarks.
Barring a special session, the legislature is not likely to act on school testing waivers before the end of April. If and when it does, lawmakers should also make sure to exempt private schools from state testing requirements.