With each passing hour, more and more K-12 schools are closing. Ohio and Maryland became the first to implement a statewide shutdown; they will probably be not to be the last. Local districts are also closing their doors for a few weeks or for periods as yet undisclosed. Even with attempts to conduct some sort of education through online tools, much of the classroom teaching time is going to be wasted.
There is a long list of issues that accompany these closures, from child care to ensuring students are fed. A less urgent concern will be the large standardized test. While the state still uses the PARCC, the SBA, or another state-adopted test, most states still use a large end-of-year assessment to assess districts, schools, and individual teachers. There are plenty of reasons to wonder the high stakes of using these tests regardless of the year, but one thing is clear: this year they will not yield any useful data.
In states where schools take extra-long viral spring break, the disruption will interfere with preparations for the test. Even in schools that remain open, but close sports and performance activities as the school and the community continually worry about whether or not to close completely, this pandemic will be disruptive. The test data is meant to allow for year-over-year comparisons, but this year is now guaranteed to be unlike any other in recent memory, meaning any variation in results will be unnecessary in making such comparisons. In states where some schools will be closed and some will continue, comparisons between districts (all of which are subject to the same cutoff score for testing) will not make sense.
There will simply be no way of knowing to what extent this year’s test data is the result of a coronavirus disruption. They will be a waste of time.
So don’t give them away.
Schools can not only make up for time wasted taking tests, but all time spent preparing for tests (plus, in some cases, all time spent on test cheering rallies).
Cut the test. Collect the teaching time and use it to fill in the holes that the coronavirus will dig in the school curriculum. It’s not a perfect solution, but it makes a lot more sense than wasting a lot of time and money on a meaningless standardized test.