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New York State suspends 3-8 ELA, math tests as COVID-19 forces schools to close

New York State suspends 3-8 ELA, math tests as COVID-19 forces schools to close

Federal Department of Edcuation signals that it will waive testing mandate for states
New York State suspends 3-8 ELA, math tests as COVID-19 forces schools to close
Photographer: Governor's office

New York state plans to opt out of annual state testing for students in third through eighth grades this spring as the COVID-19 pandemic forces all schools in the state closed until at least April 1.

The state Education Department on Friday announced it suspended various state tests and applied for federal waivers for testing and other federal requirements associated with the testing. 

"It is most important that during the time of closure, schools are able to continue to focus their efforts toward local school and community needs, as they have been doing, and not be concerned about state assessments," state officials said in the statement.

The suspended tests include the annual 3-8 math and ELA tests, which are mandated under federal law and have long caused frustration and angst among students, parents, educators and officials. The first round of computer-based testing was scheduled to commence next week, but as the closures took hold a growing chorus of educators called for the tests to be scrapped outright. 

State across the country in recent days had been canceling the tests and asking for federal waivers to do so.

And by Friday afternoon, the federal Department of Education announced that it would "grant a waiver to any state this is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year."

In recent days, educators had pointed out that even if school resumes sometime this spring, the massive disruption of schools closures would render the results of tests impossible to compare to previous results or other benchmarks. 

The state announcement of the suspended assessments does not apply to Regents exams and they were not mentioned in the state message. Educators have also raised concerns about preparing students for the critical exams needed to meet state graduation requirements; the state has relaxed requirements that prospective graduates meet certain seat-time requirements in those Regents classes. 

The following state assessments were suspended: 

- Grades 3-8 English langauge arts test

- Grades 3-8 math test

- Grade 4 elementary-level science test

- Grade 8 intermediate-level science tests

- English as a second language achievement test in grades K-12

- Alternative assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities in grades 3–8 and high school

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