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Editorial: Make test waiver work for students

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education approved the state’s request to waive accountability requirements tied to standardized testing – a move that makes sense given the unimaginable challenges children, parents and educators have faced this year.

“This waiver will allow New Mexico educators to get the student achievement data we need to guide accelerated learning programs without adding stressful consequences at the end of an already stressful school year,” state Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart says.

Normally, students take federally required tests annually in third-through-eighth grades and once in high school.

Due to the pandemic, schools didn’t have to do end-of-year testing last school year. This spring, however, our students are taking standardized tests to the greatest extent possible.

Resuming the testing and then waiving the accountability are both good moves. They will allow parents and schools to see where students are academically without penalizing either following 13 months of a patchwork of learning and teaching methods for students and teachers alike.

The Department of Education letter tells the state that when posting the assessment results for this year, it should provide context including the limitations due to the pandemic. And the state agrees to make public important data in such areas as absentee rates and student and teacher access to technology devices and high-speed internet.

“The intent of these accountability waivers is to focus on assessments to provide information to parents, educators and the public about student performance and to help target resources and supports,” the letter says.

It is important that as many students as possible are tested, which will provide parents and teachers data they need to make informed decisions about their child’s education.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.