During the coronavirus pandemic, there have been two key questions most K-12 educators have been grappling:
Has there been substantial loss of learning?
How do schools quantify that loss?
A new announcement by the US Department of Education is aimed at helping educators answer those questions, but also raises new ones about whether schools are ready for the return of large-scale assessments.
On February 22, the Biden administration said that state tests must be administered for the 2020-21 school year, but that districts won’t be held accountable for the results. The intention of this testing is to give educators data to determine the learning impact of virtual instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement means that districts across the country will have to devise solutions to administer standardized assessments to students – millions of whom will still be learning remotely. With the emergence of COVID-19 and the quick shift last year to virtual learning, such testing was canceled. In most districts, it has been a year since any large-scale assessment has been administered to students.
This new action by the Biden administration, taken before a new Secretary of Education has been confirmed, might be a signal that the administration sees test score data as a key way to measure educational recovery from the pandemic.
Some states, including California, Georgia and New York, have already indicated they planned to request a waiver from any testing requirement for this school year. Other states, including Indiana, Tennessee, Florida and Texas, indicated they planned to administer tests regardless of any action taken at the federal level. Ohio may offer a preview of what’s to come for districts that try to administer tests in-person. Reading assessments were administered across the state to all third grade students at the end of 2020. In many cases, students simply did not show up.
The Biden administration’s announcement does signal a willingness to allow some flexibility in how tests are administered this year. That flexibility might include a shorter testing window, or the ability to administer tests remotely. Given the current status of instruction and school buildings being open right now, virtual testing appears to be a scenario many districts will need to consider. Which begs a new question: Are your devices ready?
It’s not news to anyone reading this that districts have had to adapt and change their device management methods over the past year. In most districts, there are more devices being managed in more remote locations with more remote users than ever before. Remote test administration generally brings its own set of requirements – being able to lock down the browser is a common one.
Districts need to consider the IT implications for any end-of-year testing and making sure that devices are ready is a good place to start. Amplified IT’s Gopher Tools can help your district with inventory and user management in a way that scales. And, our Technical Collaborative is the best place to network with your peers across North America and share ideas. I am confident test prep will become a main topic on posts and threads in our online community. If you are not sure if your infrastructure is ready to support a new wave of mass testing, our Audit and Chrome Checkup can help you ensure your settings are aligned with best practices for education.
Head of Sales
About the Author:
Mike lives in Brooklyn, NY, and serves as the Head of Sales for Amplified IT. Mike began his career as a Grade 2 teacher and has many years of experience in the K-12 educational technology industry. Previously, he has worked at IBM, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, Edmodo, Newsela, Winsor Learning, and Spotify. Mike has served in a variety of sales, marketing, and product development roles. In his spare time, Mike loves to cook, travel, and create 3D and computer-based animation.