WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has refused to waive federal testing requirements for the 2020-21 school year, despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic that is upending public education.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Becky Pringle:
“For months, educators and parents have wondered why Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been absent from critical conversations about the safe reopening of schools, federal funding, and more. Now she speaks, and I can’t imagine a worse response to the current, very real needs in public education than her new insistence that students and educators participate in federally mandated standardized testing this year — during a pandemic and global economic crisis.
“Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that fiscal, equity and access gaps have been exacerbated by the pandemic; you don’t need more tests to tell you that hard truth. DeVos is so obsessed with mandating tests that she has lost sight of what she’s testing. Any resulting scores or metrics will be useless for educators and school leaders who are trying to make critical instructional and curricular decisions now. Her mandated tests would waste federal funding and precious time for student learning, both in scarce supply.
“If DeVos is genuinely interested in examining and resolving the disparities that exist among our public schools, she’s going about it the wrong way. Just like a ‘check engine’ light on a car’s dashboard can tell you something’s wrong, but not how to fix it, standardized tests don’t solve the real problems of inequitable opportunities. We need a dashboard of meaningful indicators that show where students have access to high speed internet, where districts have a 1:1 student-to-device ratio in student households, which students have in-person and online access to honors, Advanced Placement, and gifted courses, and where students are experiencing disciplinary action disproportionately. When you drill down to those types of indicators, the disparity between schools is transparent. But that’s not what is happening here. By refusing to waive federal standardized tests, DeVos is doing the equivalent of taking a wheel off a car and then complaining it doesn’t run. If she was really sincere about helping students and educators, she’d prove it. Provide what’s needed now: more state waivers, more flexibility, more federal funding and less paperwork.”
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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at www.nea.org.
CONTACT: Staci Maiers