Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D., is a Senior Policy Fellow for ExcelinEd focusing on school accountability policies.
As medical researchers tackle big questions about the short and long-term effects of COVID-19 on the human body, educators and policymakers are facing their own concerns about the pandemic’s impact on student learning. This crisis has disrupted virtually every school and family in the country. In spring 2020, educators and families nationwide navigated a heroic transition to distance learning. Now schools are fluctuating between in-person and virtual learning to meet the needs of their students and communities. Through all this, reliable assessments and data are more crucial than ever before.
Many students will emerge from this crisis just fine—but we cannot forget those with limited internet access or whose parents struggled to balance jobs and schooling. Disadvantaged students already face an uneven playing field, and states cannot afford to let this crisis make it worse. In spring 2021, states need to administer comprehensive end-of-year assessments to all public-school students to ensure every student is counted and to help schools offer extra support for the students who need it the most.
Comprehensive end-of-year assessments are one essential part of a broader toolkit for improving learning and opportunities for each student. These assessments provide powerful, irreplaceable data which are vital to understanding and addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on student learning, especially for students who are historically underserved. State assessment data empowers families, educators and policymakers to:
Objective, comparable information about student achievement derived from a state assessment will enable leaders to understand the pandemic’s impact on student learning and respond effectively.
Students and schools are weathering the pandemic differently. Understanding student academic achievement is the first step to ensuring state resources and supports are appropriately provided to students, educators, schools and districts.
Traditionally, underserved students have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The rigorous expectations and administration of state assessments are imperative to keep the promise of equity and to make sure every student counts.
State assessment data provides parents with honest, objective information on how their child is doing, information to know if state policies and interventions are working as well as a way to track accountability for the scarce taxpayer dollars that fund education.