WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to the Biden administration’s announcement of changes to assessment and accountability requirements for the 2020-2021 school year:
“Nothing is ideal during a pandemic, especially when it comes to navigating how best to educate our nation’s students. The Biden administration took office at a critical moment and was left to clean up myriad messes left by its predecessors, including addressing the difficult reality of how to support children and their educators, and how to monitor their safety as well as their academic, social and emotional development and progress. It has done admirable work amid this chaos, so it is a frustrating turn to see the administration ask states to continue requiring assessments during this tumultuous school year. While its plan does offer the option for testing modifications and waivers for accountability requirements, which is a start, it misses a huge opportunity to really help our students by allowing the waiver of assessments and the substitution, instead, of locally developed, authentic assessments that could be used by educators and parents as a baseline for work this summer and next year.
“As the educators in the classroom, we have always known that standardized tests are not the best way to measure a child’s development, nor do they particularly help kids or inform best practices for teaching and learning. That is especially true in these unprecedented times, when students and teachers alike are remaking the school experience in the most unlikely of circumstances.
“Today’s announcement includes two very important points: that no student should be brought back in person just to take a test, and that states that require additional flexibility in administering such tests will get a fair hearing from the Education Department if and when they present real operational challenges. For the benefit of students and educators everywhere, we intend to hold the Biden administration to its word on both.”