Sen. Polehanki, Rep. Stone Introduce Resolution Urging US Department of Education to Waive Federal Mandate for Standardized Tests

LANSING, Mich. — Today, Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) and Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren) introduced a concurrent resolution to urge the U.S. Department of Education to waive the federal mandate for standardized tests. Last week, Governor Brian Kemp (R) requested a similar waiver for the state of Georgia.

“Standardized tests are already grueling and time consuming. After a long hiatus of in-person instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are yearning for their kids to have meaningful face time with their teachers and as much precious in-person instructional time as possible in order to recapture lost learning and move forward to new learning,” Sen. Polehanki said. 

Rep. Stone added, “Our schools are already facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Placing the burden of standardized testing on the shoulders of our students, who have missed so much time in the classroom is simply unfair. Now more than ever, it is imperative to support our students and teachers to have as much instructional time as possible with as few disruptions as possible. We already recognize students missed a good chunk of the standards being assessed due to COVID-19; we don’t need test scores to demonstrate it. Students have enough stress and anxiety without being assessed on materials that they didn’t receive the necessary instruction on.”

Social distancing in schools may require mitigation strategies like staggered scheduling and significantly reduced capacity in testing rooms and computer labs. This will double, or can even quadruple, the amount of time needed to administer state or federally mandated standardized tests1. Instead, schools need flexibility to serve the needs of students that a strict and onerous testing regimen does not allow for. 

The M-STEP is a federally mandated summative test that captures student learning at one point in time; it does nothing to drive instruction and monitor progress in real time like formative (or benchmark) testing would do. And, unfortunately, connectivity issues and academic integrity issues make standardized testing from home currently untenable. 

Using test data for accountability purposes during the massive disruption that this pandemic has caused is unfair to students and educators. Finally, in a time of budget uncertainty, the millions of tax dollars spent on standardized tests could be re-prioritized to support the unique needs of students in this unprecedented time.


1Jennifer Gottlieb: Executive Director for District and School Services: Oakland Schools

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