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Education

With School Disruptions Ongoing, Federal, State Officials Begin Planning Spring Tests

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Jeanie Lindsay
/
IPB News

The U.S. Department of Education, USDOE, says spring standardized testing will continue this year after being canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, but the federal government is offering states some flexibility in how those tests are administered and how the data is used. 

Officials say it's important to use testing data to identify the type and amount of additional support students need after a tumultuous year, but many agree those scores should not be used against schools on the federal and state accountability systems.

In a letter to state school leaders this week, the feds said states can consider things like extending testing timelines, offering a shorter version of tests, and administering them remotely when possible. 

The state has extended some testing timelines and is considering others for later spring tests like ILEARN. But so far Indiana isn't planning to offer remote testing or reduce the number of questions on any state exams.

Indiana Department of Education, IDOE, spokesperson Holly Lawson said remote testing and shorter tests could interfere with the quality and amount of data collected.

"The reasons why we're testing, and why it's so important that we test, is to make sure we're getting an accurate snapshot of student learning right now," she said.

READ MORE: How Will Indiana Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What You Need To Know

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The USDOE said states will still have to report testing data, but can ask the department to waive accountability. Meanwhile, IDOE has told schools it aims to use test scores for informational purposes only. 

Indiana Education Secretary Katie Jenner said in a statement Indiana has already applied for a federal accountability waiver, and is working with state lawmakers to provide schools a null grade on the state accountability system this year.

ILEARN testing for third through eighth graders begins in April, but some testing is already underway.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.