As we enter this test season, we find ourselves in the midst of uncertainty. Nonetheless, schools across the country will be testing their children in third grade and above this spring.
What will testing look like? A lot like it used to look like.
When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law, it contained the same fundamental requirement for testing as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Students in grades 3 through 8 must be tested in reading and math once a year, as well as once in high school. Students must also be tested in science once each in grade school, middle school, and high school.
The good news is that the results of those tests will no longer be used in the flawed adequate yearly progress formula of NCLB. Under NCLB, something as simple as a single child having a bad year (hello—health issues, family challenges, new school, you name it) could result in a school be labeled as failing. Worse, it imposed penalties on schools for failing to meet its unrealistic standards.
Although testing remains a component of ESSA, tests no longer are the sole measure of school quality. Struggling schools now receive additional assistance, rather than penalties.
The nitty gritty, however, is in the details. The regulations finalized in November of 2016 are currently suspended under an executive order. Congress is considering a variety of actions, ranging from joint resolutions to legislation, that could overturn or negate the regulations and even ESSA.
What is a state to do?
The Secretary of Education advised states to proceed with preparing and submitting their consolidated plans. Absent action from Congress or the Department of Education, the November regulations will go into effect on March 21, 2017.
Expect states to stay the course. This spring will look like last spring. Unless testing requirements are repealed outright, change on testing plans will proceed at about the same pace as turning the Titanic.
To get you prepared for testing we have featured in our store right now a variety of ELA materials.