Oklahoma State Department of Education to pursue federal waiver to suspend statewide student assessments

Coronavirus

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Department of Education has announced it plans to pursue a federal waiver to suspend statewide student assessments for the 2019-2020 school year.

“Oklahomans, like all Americans, are seeking to ‘flatten the curve’ of a global pandemic. Our foremost concern is ensuring our students and school communities remain as safe and healthy as possible, which is why the State Board of Education voted earlier this week to cease all school operations until at least April 6, and possibly longer,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires each state to administer academic assessments in English language arts, mathematics and science in grades 3-8 as well as once in high school. The U.S. Department of Education has indicated it would consider waiver requests from states with widespread closures related to the spread of COVID-19.

On Monday, the Oklahoma State Board of Education held an emergency meeting to authorize the closure of all Oklahoma schools due to COVID-19.

Department officials say schools would be closed starting March 17 until April 6.

The waiver request will also seek suspension of the Oklahoma School Report Card for the current school year.

“Our educators and district leaders need to shift their focus from assessments to essential services, including child nutrition and planning to continue student learning through alternative delivery methods,” said Hofmeister. “Their priority cannot be with assessments that would be of questionable validity in the wake of a global pandemic. Assessments are very important tools, but they do not outweigh other considerations during this time of uncertainty.”

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