State Education Department seeks test waivers

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Noting high levels of public support for the moves, the state Education Department has submitted two federal waiver requests for state assessment and accountability requirements, announced Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa.

The department last month said it would be seeking the waivers due to impacts from the ongoing pandemic, and accepted public comments through Feb. 5 before submitting the requests.

Feedback included 468 formal written comments, and 39,493 responses to a survey. Well over 80% supported the two waiver requests, according to the statement.

One request involves a waiver on state testing requirements at the elementary, middle and high school levels, with state assessments for English Language Arts, math and science among tests affected. That waiver also would allow the Education Department to administer the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test only to English Language Learners who may safely participate.

For that waiver, 84% of formal comments supported not administering any state assessments this school year while 16% supported administering some or all. Those totals were 88.5% and 4.4% respectively among the survey respondents.

The second waiver request involves eliminating the requirement to assign a Level 1 to 4 to each accountability subgroup for each indicator for which a school or district is accountable or identify schools for improvement in fall 2021 based on 2020-21 school year results.

For that waiver, 100% of formal comments supported not making accountability determinations based on data from 2020-21, while the proportion among survey respondents was 92.4%.

The public feedback came from persons identifying themselves as parents, teachers, school staff members, and community members.

“We heard from educators and parents from across the state on this important decision,” said Rosa. “The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and strengthens our resolve that our schools and students would be best served by waiving testing and accountability requirements.”

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