More Latitude, Fewer Mandates Required for Student Assessment in Current Times

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Key New NEPC Review Takeaway: Center for American Progress report issues a tone-deaf call for expanded assessment.

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Student Assessment During COVID-19, a recent report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), argues that there should be no waivers of the federally mandated administration of standardized tests in spring 2021.

Gene V Glass of San José State University, William J. Mathis of the University of Colorado Boulder, and David C. Berliner of Arizona State University reviewed Student Assessment During COVID-19 and found it to be, in the current backdrop of the pandemic, ill-timed, tone deaf and disruptive.

In its report, CAP sides with the Department of Education’s policy of denying requests for waivers, and it calls for additional assessments that “capture multiple aspects of student well-being, including social-emotional needs, engagement, and conditions for learning” as well as supplementary gathering of student information.

Though the report contends this will ensure greater equity in the time of the pandemic, supposedly through the addition of the new measures, this approach remains unproven. Taking little heed of past attempts at multivariable, test-based accountability schemes, the report endorses this less-than-successful approach, citing only to studies that do not address the complexity of the undertaking or the effects of its implementation.

Considering the massive disruption now occurring in schools and the limited utility of standardized tests even in ordinary times, state agencies and local districts are too hard-pressed by fiscal and time demands and the ramping up of health costs to consider these additional and costly programs of dubious value.

For these reasons, the reviewers conclude, the CAP proposal is badly timed, unrealistic, and inappropriate for dealing with the exigencies arising from the pandemic.

Find the review, by Gene V Glass, William J. Mathis, and David C. Berliner, at:
https://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/pandemic-assessment

Find Student Assessment During COVID-19, written by Laura Jimenez and published by Center for American Progress, at:
https://cdn.americanprogress.org/content/uploads/2020/09/09063559/COVID-Student-Assessment1.pdf?_ga=2.166859322.509167313.1603332006-695044446.1546624010

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: https://nepc.colorado.edu

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