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Marion County superintendents ask state to cancel 2021 standardized testing

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A group of nine Marion County School superintendents are asking the Indiana Department of Education to cancel standardized testing this spring.

The group excludes the leader of Indianapolis Public Schools. The superintendents made the request and cited implications of the coronavirus pandemic. They also asked the the state Department of Education to address testing and accountability for schools.

Flora Reichanadter, the superintendent for Pike Township School, is one of the superintendents who signed on to the request sent to the state. She said, “For us, it is really not about learning loss; it is about loss of opportunity.”

“So for me, it is about those days that are used for assessment would be much better served for actual instructional time to help continue to make up the loss of opportunity that has happened in the last year,” Reichanadter said.

In the request, superintendents cited the social and emotional impact put on students over the last year, health department restrictions for students in classrooms, and logistical concerns of facilitating the tests as reasons they think the state should pull testing.

“When we get to it and we really look at what our students need, our students need time,” Reichanadter said.

The request also cites health worries that could result from bringing in large groups of students for weeks at a time for testing.

“It is possible that we have a student that starts and then they can’t finish the test which would invalidate it,” Reichanadter said.

Pike’s superintendent also says the district tests students throughout the year to monitor progress and growth.

IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson did not sign the request.

Statements

“Indianapolis Public Schools does not disagree with the premise of reconsidering current requirements for 2021 state testing, but we know our Indiana state officials are awaiting any additional direction from the U.S. Department of Education regarding state testing flexibility so that there’s no risk of losing millions of dollars in funding. If the federal government provides additional flexibility, IPS supports our state department in leveraging those flexibilities to ensure any state-level testing is helpful to schools and teachers and that schools are held harmless in terms of state accountability.”

IPS

“Measuring student learning and progress is fundamental to ensuring student success — especially during the pandemic-and assessments serve as one important component in our overall effort. In particular, we know Indiana’s low-income students, as well as our black and brown students, have been disproportionately impacted in multiple ways by the pandemic, and getting a snapshot of their progress will help us better tailor resources for those students.

Once we have the Spring 2021 assessment results, IDOE will study these results, looking at topics like: which state standards show significant learning loss; what differences in performance and growth exist between student groups; what learning gaps are present in foundational skills; and conclusions or recommendations that can be made to address student learning loss.

IDOE recognizes the concerns and complexities with administering federally-required, on-site assessments. That’s why we’ve provided guidance to schools. If a student cannot participate in the assessment for health reasons (example – COVID-19 quarantine, health issue, homebound, etc.), then the school can document this information and report it back to IDOE.

IDOE has requested a federal waiver for calculating accountability determinations, and is collaborating with state legislators to ensure schools are held harmless for the test results by issuing a null grade for the current school year. IDOE is also working with the state policymakers for guidance in flexibility in graduation requirements, making sure that students also don’t face consequences due to the pandemic.

IDOE will continue to work with federal and state partners to ensure assessment data is used for informational purposes only and will share any additional guidance with educational leaders as it becomes available.”

Indiana Department of Education

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