Washington, D.C. (July 20, 2020) – State and local education leaders are working tirelessly to prepare for the next academic school year. Among the many decisions they must consider is when and how to assess student learning. CCSSO Executive Director Carissa Moffat Miller issued the following statement today on the importance of high-quality assessments in our education system and how states are working to meet the needs of students in this unprecedented year.
Here is the full statement from CCSSO Executive Director Carissa Moffat Miller:
“The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) believes high-quality assessments are one crucial way to measure student learning, identify inequities, and drive the right supports for students. Exactly how those assessments are given may look different in this current environment, and states are working hard to make plans to best meet the needs of students in their state in the 2020-21 school year.
“CCSSO has long supported and advocated for high-quality annual assessments as one important tool among many to drive equitable outcomes for all students. Robust, meaningful assessments provide a consistent measure to show how students are performing, where progress is being made, or which students need additional supports. These assessments come in many forms to allow schools, districts, and states to gather critical information on student learning.
“CCSSO first published States’ Commitment to High-Quality Assessments Aligned to College- and Career-Readiness in October 2013. This foundational resource defined high-quality assessments as tests that align to college- and career-ready standards, yield valuable reports on student progress, adhere to best practices in test administration, and provide accessibility to all students. In 2014, we reaffirmed our commitment to high-quality assessments and outlined our belief that any test given in school must meet these commitments and be high-quality, meaningful, relevant, and part of a coherent system. In 2015, as Congress began discussing the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education that eventually led to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), CCSSO published our key priorities for legislation, reiterating the important role assessments play in our education system. CCSSO advocated for a continued commitment to equity in the federal law to ensure all students, particularly our most vulnerable populations, are held to the same high standards for performance and that schools are held accountable for meeting their needs, while giving states the flexibility to explore new, innovative ways to measure student academic performance. In 2017, CCSSO acknowledged the critical role assessments play in identifying and addressing inequities across our education system through the Leading for Equity: Opportunities for State Education Chiefs.
“Today, our school systems face unprecedented challenges that none of us envisioned. Public school buildings in every state have been closed for months, and students and teachers have transitioned to remote learning. The pandemic has affected every student and family across this country, and we recognize this crisis has had a greater impact on our most vulnerable student populations. As states plan for the next academic year, our primary focus will remain protecting the health and safety of students, teachers and staff, and identifying and offering the supports students need to succeed.
“Even amid a global pandemic, CCSSO’s principles for high-quality assessments still hold true. Assessments serve as an important tool in our education system to measure student learning and help educators and policymakers meet the needs of all students. Assessments should still align to college- and career-ready standards, yield valuable reports on student progress, adhere to best practices in test administration, and be accessible to all students. As a result of this pandemic, it became clear in Spring 2020 that states could not reliably or equitably administer statewide assessments that would meet these principles. Now, as state education leaders are working to reopen schools to best serve students, whether in person, remotely, or a combination of both, we must consider the best approaches to measure where students are and how best to meet their needs in the coming year. The current circumstances require state education leaders to continue to take a thoughtful, nimble, innovative, and collaborative approach. At this time, we cannot predict all that the next year may bring, but we can say with certainty that assessment tools must continue to play a key role in our education system.
“In this current environment, measuring student learning and identifying potential gaps is more important than ever. As chief state school officers work to prioritize the health and safety of students and to meet their academic, social, and mental health needs during this continued crisis, high-quality, relevant assessment tools will be one critical way to understand where students are when they return to school and how schools can best meet their needs as we move forward in the school year. We can only address the inequities in our education system, and the gaps that may have widened as a result of the pandemic, if we have accurate data on where students are, the strengths they have built, and the challenges they face. As students head back to school in the next academic year, whether in person or remotely, we believe the following is important:
- Educators should have access to high-quality assessment tools that can measure and diagnose where students are academically so teachers can meet their individual needs over the next academic year.
- Parents and families should have access to information on where their child is academically and how the school is working to address their needs.
- Policymakers and others should have access to data that shows the impact of COVID-19 on student learning to inform future policy decisions.
- State leaders should ensure all students and teachers have equitable access to high-quality assessment tools, provide the guidance and resources schools need to administer assessments reliably and effectively in all learning environments, and collaborate with educators to appropriately respond to identified needs.
“The context across states today is vastly different than it was before the pandemic. Many states are still striving to administer statewide assessments in Spring 2021 to maintain a consistent measure of academic progress across the state. Other states are building on previous innovations and considering new approaches to measure academic progress and identify student needs in this unprecedented school year. We recognize that COVID-19 and its impact on our education system is ever-evolving. CCSSO stands ready to continue supporting every state in navigating these unique circumstances and providing educators with access to the high-quality, relevant tools necessary to measure student academic progress and inform decision-making now and in the future.”
For more information and resources on how states are addressing COVID-19 in schools, visit www.ccsso.org/coronavirus.
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, Bureau of Indian Education, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.
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