Press Release

Civil Rights, Business, and Education Advocacy Organizations Ask Biden Administration to Detail Plans for the Use of State K12 Assessments as a Tool to Advance Educational Equity
Request Seeks Equitable, Innovative Path Forward

Contact: Josh Parrish, jparrish@forstudentsuccess.org

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2021) – A group of 15 civil rights, business and education advocacy organizations asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona today to detail the administration’s plans for resuming state assessment and school improvement requirements set by federal law and that were largely paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizations specifically asked for Department plans to ensure states administer high-quality assessments this school year that empower accountability systems to identify schools in need of support.

There is an opportunity to learn from the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic to inform new assessment policies and designs, the organizations wrote in a letter to Cardona that spells out the requests. Recognizing that the nation’s underserved students, who already faced inadequate and inequitable access to resources and opportunities, have “struggled academically, socially, and emotionally over the past year,” they cite the need for data to better understand where they stand academically.

Without action on the issue, the organizations say they fear that the potential loss of education data provided by state assessments “may result in a return to the days when inequitable outcomes for students of color, English learners, students with disabilities, and students from low-income backgrounds were easily swept under the rug.”

“Our students, educators, and families deserve a thoughtful conversation about assessment policy and practice, and how we can surface better, more useful testing tools across our education system,” the organizations wrote. “Both proponents and opponents of our current testing system want educational assessments that can better guide decision-making and better inform classroom instruction and student progress.”

The ultimate goal is to foster a thoughtful, national dialogue on the future of comprehensive assessment systems that meet the needs of educators, parents, students and policymakers alike. The groups say this is not the time to open up the Every Student Succeeds Act to rethink the strong assessment requirements of the law, but they do acknowledge a desire from diverse stakeholders across the country to consider new types of assessment systems and designs.

The letter can be viewed at www.forstudentsuccess.org/future-of-assessment.

Specifically, the organizations believe that any assessment recommendations should be informed by a variety of diverse perspectives, including those of racially, ethnically, and politically diverse stakeholders, to ensure that the needs of students, families, educators and policymakers are met. In addition, the organizations believe discussions on the future of assessments should be rooted in the following principles:

  • Statewide, summative assessments will continue to be a part of our education system; we will not consider eliminating such testing altogether but focus on improvement for the benefit of all stakeholders.
  • Assessment systems should be predictive, informative, and evaluative, recognizing that no single assessment can serve all these purposes.
  • Assessments must provide aligned, comparable, statewide data for all students; we will not allow innovation to hide the performance of certain student groups and populations.
  • Assessment data should be a tool for improvement, not penalty; we will work to ensure that future assessments are useful at the school, district and state levels.
  • Assessment systems should provide meaningful, actionable information and should be accessible and unbiased.
  • Assessment administration and all individual results should be safe, secure, and private.
  • The advancement of assessment design should be to the benefit of all students, but in particular with a goal of advancing racial equity and the educational achievement for underserved students, including English learners and students with disabilities.

The signers include:

50CAN

Center for American Progress (CAP)

Chiefs for Change

Collaborative for Student Success

Data Quality Campaign (DQC)

Education Reform Now

The Education Trust

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)

National Parents Union

National Urban League (NUL)

NMKidsCAN

Teach Plus

UnidosUS

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation


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