The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to test students in math and reading annually in grades 3–8 and once in high school, based on the premise that such testing provides a crucial window into how schools are performing and different populations of students are faring. Last spring, as Covid-19 shuttered schools and upended the nation, the U.S. Department of Education waived those testing requirements. Should Washington do the same this spring? Would testing in 2021 provide a useful glimpse into how students and schools are doing—or would it simply impose an unnecessary burden and yield untrustworthy data? And, if Covid-related disruptions and closures continue into the spring, and millions of students are learning remotely, how can states that do test ensure that assessment strategies are practical, valid, and reliable?
Scott Marion, executive director of the Center for Assessment, and Lorrie Shepard, University Distinguished Professor at the School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder, argue against “testing as usual,” while Jessica Baghian, former assistant state education chief for Louisiana, urges policymakers to stay the course on statewide assessments.