In the midst of the pandemic, students, teachers and parents breathed a collective sigh of relief about the temporary halting of standardized testing.
As we prepare to enter the second semester of the 2020-21 school year, however, the State Board of Education is bringing the test back but with a twist. The department has approved the use of shorter standardized tests in English language arts and math this spring, creating a path for collecting critical student data amidst COVID-19 uncertainties.
“Our schools and educators need flexibility, options and ongoing support as they continue to navigate tremendous challenges and collect data across multiple measures to fully understand student learning,” says State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
Like other states, California is required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act to assess student learning as a condition of receiving certain federal funds. In a letter to state education chiefs, the U.S. Department of Education indicated it would not waive this requirement and that states should prepare to administer tests in the spring. As a result, the state board approved the shorter Smarter Balanced assessments for public school students in grades 3-8 and 11 required to take the test.
The shorter assessments will reduce student testing time, which now takes seven to eight hours. Guidance regarding test administration will include flexible options to meet the unique contexts of each district or school.
The tests will cover all academic standards, which describe what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. Spring testing will provide the first statewide snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on student learning.
Now that the shorter tests are approved, CDE will work closely with districts and charter schools to strategize test administration, ensure student participation and communicate with families.
For more information, visit the CDE’s website.