Betsy DeVos refuses to waive standardized testing amid pandemic

The Secretary of Education says testing is vital to holding schools accountable.

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, notified state education officials Thursday that they “should not anticipate” waivers for federally required standardized tests this year.

That means Michigan’s K-12 students will likely have to take the M-STEP test next spring whether the coronavirus pandemic is still an issue or not.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

A weekday morning email roundup of Kalamazoo stories and events.

Michigan’s State Superintendent Michael Rice, along with state education leaders across the country, formally requested DeVos give them a pass on standardized testing citing the difficulty of administering those tests during a pandemic.

States were granted a similar waiver last spring during the early days of the pandemic.

In a letter, DeVos said the benefits of standardized testing outweighed the risks of trying the administer the tests.

“If we fail to assess students, it will have a lasting effect for years to come,” she said. “Not only will vulnerable students fall behind, but we will be abandoning the important, bipartisan reforms of the past two decades at a critical moment.”

Superintendent Rice issued a statement saying he disagreed with the Secretary of Education.

“We agree with the need to know where children are academically in a pandemic, but strongly disagree with the need to use spring state summative assessments for this purpose,” said Rice. “Recent state law requires benchmark assessments in the fall and in the spring of this school year for this purpose.”

You can read more at Bridge Michigan.

Independent journalism is essential to a healthy democracy. Make a donation today.