Learning Loss Data: Stanford University’s CREDO (Center for Research on Education Outcomes) has released a study based on NWEA (MAP assessment) data on 20 states.

In their report they conclude with four Implications: First, the learning losses chilling.
Second, new approaches will be needed.
Third, diagnostic assessment and frequent progress checks are needed more than ever.
Fourth, the assessments needed exceed local capabilities and should be provided nationally for all.

Report: “Estimates of Learning Loss in 2019-2000 School Year” CREDO VIDEO. CBS VIDEO

Educators and families across the country are observing and predicting learning loss in academics and social emotional learning losses as well. But what is our best course– is it to spend some of the prized limited school days on testing? During the pandemic, voices have been raised by educators, administrators, and families asking to postpone testing given the added pressure it can put on already stressed students and schools.

Nov 2020 Edweek article “States Push to Ditch or Downplay Standardized Tests During Virus Surge 2020” reflects those concerns.

“At the end of the day, there’s going to be an asterisk around any 2020-21 [test] results if they’re given,” Stephen Pruitt of the Southern Regional Education Board told our colleague Sarah D. Sparks in July.
Even more than an asterisk, the pandemic should underscore that the traditional standardized tests mandated by federal law simply haven’t worked as desiged, and push the Biden administration and others to rethink the entire system, said Joshua Starr, the CEO of PDK International, a professional association of educators.
“This is the time to actually challenge the assumption that the state testing regimes will give us what we want,” said Starr. “I have no confidence that state standardized tests this year will do that. I don’t know that they’ve ever done that, and they certainly won’t do it this year.”
While Starr said that formative assessments, for example, could be useful to students and educators. But he said that in general, given the pandemic’s clear and disproportionate impact on underserved students and communities, education leaders should move straight into directing more resources and support to students and families in need, without depending on tests to do so.
The ability of tests to discern trend lines in a typical fashion has also been disrupted beyond the point of being useful, including for accountability, said Daniel Koretz, a research professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who focuses on assessments. And more broadly, he said, potential disruptions for students at home and other factors unique to the pandemic present an environment that tests simply can’t control for.

Edweek

An NEA article urges that we “Cancel Standardized Tests During COVID-19”
They write and ask us to sign a letter to the U.S. E.D.

American students are still navigating the most difficult year of learning in modern history. Between losing loved ones to COVID-19, being forced out of classrooms, adapting to distance learning, and missing out on a year of regular social interactions – they have had their worlds turned upside down. 
The last thing they need is to take a stressful, ineffective standardized test. 

The AFT has written resolution to address various aspects of the pandemic and school needs going forward. Regarding Assessment, here is their stance:

RESOLVED, that the AFT will advocate for districts and states to develop systems of assessments that support teaching and learning by:
Seeking waivers on state summative assessments and the high-stakes consequences attached to them as the upcoming year is a bridge period following prolonged coronavirus closures and re-established instruction in schools;

Conducting comprehensive reviews of all assessment programs to limit the loss of learning time to excessive testing;

Prioritizing assessments that support and help target teaching and learning, including reliable, nonintrusive and teacher-friendly diagnostics—both in-person and virtual; and

Supporting teacher use of authentic assessments wherein students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of what they have learned.

Educators and families across the country are observing and predicting learning loss in academics and social emotional learning losses as well. But what is our best course– is it to spend some of the prized limited school days on testing?

During the pandemic, voices have been raised by educators, administrators, and families asking to postpone testing given the added pressure it can put on already stressed students and schools. Nov 2020 Edweek article “States Push to Ditch or Downplay Standardized Tests During Virus Surge 2020” reflects those concerns.

Others feel that the pandemic raises the import of testing, so that we can ascertain educational needs. However the federal ESSA mandated standardized tests are not deemed to be accurate about “learning loss”.

Our new Education Director, Michael Cordona, is standing firm in requiring states to conduct standardized tests.

There will be flexibility, but summative tests will be required.

“It is urgent to understand the impact of COVID-19 on learning,” Ian Rosenblum, acting assistant secretary in the office of elementary and secondary education, wrote to states. “We know, however, that some schools and school districts may face circumstances in which they are not able to safely administer statewide summative assessments this spring using their standard practices.”

Rosenblum said states would still have to publicly report data by student subgroups, as required. He also specifically encouraged states to extend the testing window for English-language proficiency tests.

Rosenblum did not give a deadline for when states would have to seek flexibility from accountability or other requirements. However he also said the department recognized that “individual states may need additional assessment flexibility based on the specific circumstances.” He added that in such cases, the department “will work with states to address their individual needs and conditions while ensuring the maximum available statewide data to inform the targeting of resources and supports.”

— Ian Rosenblum, Acting Asst. Sec. of Education