U.S. Department of Education denies New York’s waiver request to cancel state assessments

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Posted at 5:01 PM, Apr 07, 2021

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York State Education Department (NYSED) announced Wednesday the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) denied New York’s waiver request to cancel state assessments.

NYSED previously requested the waiver to help address unique student needs linked to the pandemic.

Due to the denial, NYSED says the following will occur:

  • It will administer only Session 1 of the grades 3-8 assessments in Mathematics and ELA.
  • It will administer only the written test component of the Grades 4 and 8 Science Tests.
  • Regents Examinations required under ESSA (ELA, Algebra 1, Earth Science and Living Environment Exams) will be given during June 2021.
  • The August 2021 Regents Exams are canceled.
  • The New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) and New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) are being administered according to the established schedules for those students who are able to safely come into school and take the assessments.

NYSED says USDE previously agreed to uncouple state assessments from ESSA accountability requirements. Any results from this year will be used solely as a measure of student learning.

NYSED Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. and Commissioner Betty A. Rosa released the following joint statement on the matter:

The U.S. Department of Education chose not to approve New York’s waiver request to forego state assessments this year. In the face of a worldwide pandemic, we believe cancelling state assessments would be the most appropriate and fair thing to do in the best interest of our students and we are deeply disappointed in USDE’s decision.

While we are grateful for Secretary Cardona’s statement that students learning remotely should not be brought into school solely to take an assessment, the idea that state assessments could be “standardized” is unrealistic given the varying formats of instruction and not including whole segments of our state’s children who will not participate. In fact, the students most in need of state assessments – those receiving remote instruction -- are the very children who are not required to take the test. Schools providing remote only instruction tend to be located in urban settings and are more likely to serve communities with higher concentrations of students of color. Data collected by NYSED indicates that parents of students of color were more likely to select remote instruction for their children compared to White parents, and students of color are four times more likely to continue in remote learning once in-person options are made available. As a result, NY students who are most impacted by the pandemic are among the least likely to participate in any statewide assessments. Again, this will have a disturbing impact on the assessment results and render their interpretation meaningless.