Feds waive school accountability requirements for Michigan, standardized testing still required

By Allison Donahue, Michigan Advance

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has waived the federal requirements for school accountability in Michigan, but schools should still plan on administering standardized tests this spring. 

The Michigan Department of Education announced Monday the federal department waived the school accountability measure for this school year due to “the disruption of instruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“This has been an extremely challenging year for students and educators,” state superintendent Michael Rice said. “USED’s waiver of federal accountability requirements recognizes that our schools are still navigating their way through a deadly pandemic that continues to grip our state and nation.”

But in a letter to Rice, Acting Assistant Education Secretary Ian Rosenblum said USED it is still considering the state’s request to waive the statewide tests altogether, which was made in January.

During the 2019-20 school year, then-U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos granted Michigan federal waivers for the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) and the SAT exams.

“This is not the time to engage in state summative assessments,” Rice said. “Educators can determine where kids are academically for parents and for themselves with our benchmark assessments, and can use those assessments to target resources, interventions and supports for our kids in our districts. Our schools need this time to focus on the social emotional and academic needs of children.”

COVID-19 cases in school-aged children have been soaring over the last few weeks, with 66 K-12 schools reporting new outbreaks Monday.

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