SCDE asks for input on waiving federal assessment exams for 2020-2021 school year

SCDE asks for input on waiving federal assessment exams for 2020-2021 school year
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Education is asking for input on its request to waive federally-required assessment tests. Governor Henry McMaster and state lawmakers passed a law this summer that allowed SCDE to ask for the waiver for the 2020-2021 school year.

In a statement, State Superintendent Molly Spearman said,

“As schools across our state reopen, we must focus on recouping the instruction time lost during COVID-19 school facility closures and ensuring that every member of the school community remains safe and healthy. Administering high stakes assessments in the current environment places undue stress on students, parents, and educators and takes time away from the classroom instruction and individualized support that every child needs that administering high stakes assessments in the current environment places undue stress on students, parents, and educators.”

Exams that would be waived include:

  • SC READY, grades 3-8 English language arts and mathematics;
  • SCPASS, grades 4 and 6 science;
  • End-of-Course Examination Program (EOCEP) tests in Algebra 1, Biology 1, USHC, English 2, and English 1 (English 1 administered to specific students, as needed for accountability);
  • English learning proficiency exams (ACCESS for ELLs); and
  • All corresponding alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards.

If the waiver is granted, the SCDE would not administer the exams listed above, and whatever rating the district received last would stay in place until the SCDE resumes giving the exams, upon which the ratings are largely based.

College entrance exams (like the SAT and ACT) and the state’s Career Readiness Assessments, along with ASVAB (the exam used for military enrollment), the GED examination program will still be administered consistent with those vendors procedures. In addition, formative assessments/benchmark assessments will still be given to give teachers important information on how well students are progressing.

If the waiver is not granted, then the SCDE will be required to administer these assessments in the fall and spring to all students. Because of test security issues, and the test vendors’ requirements, these assessments must be administered in person, although districts would need to ensure that they are following the applicable social distancing requirements in effect at that time.

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