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Federal guidance for schools on state testing

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 2:25 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - More guidance from the federal government on how local districts should move forward with state mandated tests. Schools got a federal waiver last spring to not test students because of the pandemic - but the state superintendent says districts have been directed to move forward with testing this school year.

State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey says the testing is designed to give school leaders a clear snapshot of where students are academically, which he says is probably more important this year than any other because students have been in and out the classroom.

The official testing window for the much-anticipated reading and math assessments for 2nd - 8th graders starts March 15th. Students will show what they have learned this school year so districts can gauge how to help moving. Testing dates are extended this year to help districts maximize COVID safety.

The federal government typically requires schools have 95 percent student participation. Leaders in Washington have said they are lowering the requirement this year because of the pandemic, but haven’t given a specific number. The state superintendent says districts don’t have the ability to allow at-home testing, but parents have options if they don’t feel comfortable bringing their child back into a school building.

“Always had the option to opt out of federal testing if they have good reason. Which we suspect might be somebody in the household has diabetes and hasn’t been able to get the vaccine. We expect that could be a reason someone can’t come in to test,” said Dr. Eric Mackey.

Dr. Mackey says he hopes the state at least gets 70 percent participation from students across all demographic groups because that would give them stronger data on where Alabama students are academically.

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