Educators for Excellence Reacts to U.S. Department of Education Decision on Assessment Waivers
September 4 (New York) — Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, stands with the civil rights community to call for states to maintain summative assessments at the end of this school year. In a letter to the Council of Chief State School Officers yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education said it would not provide states with waivers to suspend summative assessments this year, and opened the door to providing states flexibility to temporarily adjust or suspend accountability measures in light of the unique circumstances presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
"As a teacher, statewide assessments are one of the measures I use to better understand what my students know and the kind of support they’ll need to advance their learning, as well as how I may need to adjust my teaching to help them get there,” said E4E-Connecticut member Syeita Rhey-Fisher, a fourth-grade teacher in Hartford, Connecticut. “For that reason, I do hope we continue to gather shared data this school year. At the same time, though, given the challenges both students and teachers have been facing during the pandemic, I want to make sure that we keep that information in context. It’s really important that we be able to identify how students’ learning has been impacted — particularly for vulnerable students who have had a much harder time accessing remote learning, for example — but we shouldn’t be using it to penalize students or teachers for factors that have, quite honestly, been beyond our control.”
"Teachers across the United States have been sounding the alarm that this pandemic has exacerbated inequities already existing in our education system. Rooting out and addressing these depends on our ability to identify them, and statewide assessments are critical in helping educators and education leaders do this,” said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Educators for Excellence. “Many things remain unknown as we look forward to the end of this school year, and states must have the flexibility to plan and adjust as things change, but whatever happens, schools need good information about what students did or didn’t learn this year. As any teacher will tell you, though, testing in and of itself will not solve the problem. If we’re serious about getting students back on track, we need to make sure teachers and students have the resources they need right now. And, if we want states to be able to facilitate high-quality assessments, states will need clear, swift guidance and flexibility from Secretary DeVos and financial resources from Congress.”
In January, E4E released results of Voices from the Classroom 2020: a Survey of America's Educators, which found that 92% of teachers support summative measures of student learning.