DOE Announces States May Seek Waiver of Standardized Testing Requirements

CATEGORY: Special Bulletins
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education
AUTHOR: Liebert Cassidy Whitmore
PUBLICATION: LCW Special Bulletin
DATE: Mar 27, 2020

On March 20, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a press release (found here) announcing that the Department of Education would provide broad flexibility to all states regarding the assessment and accountability requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) due to widespread school closures in response to the coronavirus/COVID-19.

According to the statement, states that are unable to assess their students may seek a waiver from federal testing requirements by completing a form. States that obtain a waiver would be exempt from the following:

  • Administration of statewide assessments to all students;
  • Making annual accountability determinations;
  • Identifying schools for support and improvement; or
  • Providing data on their state and local report cards for assessment and accountability information.

Further, the announcement advises that DOE has “dramatically streamlined the application process to make it as simple as possible for state leaders who are grappling with many complex issues.” Secretary DeVos also stated her staff is committed to responding to requests for waivers within one business day of receipt. Secretary DeVos’ announcement also stated that states need not complete public notification in advance of submitting waiver requests. Rather, states may notify the public of the request and the opportunity to comment at the same time as their submission or closely following the submission.

The California Department of Education is the state agency in California responsible for requesting a waiver if it determines necessary. It has not yet indicated whether it intends to apply for the waiver.