However, as the new school year begins, the Trump administration expects states to conduct the assessments required as part of the school year According to DeVos, Every Student Succeeds, p. 1177 (114), the main law for K-12 education.
Some governors, including Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp, and other state officials, had asked the Department of Education to consider suspending standardized tests for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
Richard Woods, the Republican headmaster in Georgia, criticized DeVos’ decision. “It’s disappointing, shows a total disconnection from the realities of the classroom, and will have an adverse effect on public education,”
S.Michigan officials had also urged DeVos to relax testing requirements again. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, busted DeVos’ decision on Thursday, accusing her of “forcing high-stakes tests on our young children during a global pandemic”.
“This virus has had unprecedented effects on our children and it is cruel to force them to make these assessments at a time when families everywhere are working around the clock to be safe,” Whitmer said in a statement.
But DeVos denied those concerns in her letter, saying that while it may be harder for states to conduct tests during the pandemic, it is important to continue to measure student achievement and school achievement.
“If we don’t judge the students, it will have lasting effects for years,” wrote DeVos. “Not only will vulnerable students fall behind, but we will abandon the important bipartisan reforms of the past two decades at a critical moment.”
DeVos’ letter cited a request from a broad coalition of groups calling on the Trump administration to enforce federal testing requirements, including the Center for American Progress, the National Urban League, the Education Trust, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Board of Chief State School Officers also pushed for ratings in the coming school year, saying it was “more important than ever” to measure student learning and identify potential gaps during the pandemic.
The DeVos announcement was rarely lauded by Congress Democrats.
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, said he appreciated DeVos’ decision. “There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic is having serious consequences for student growth and performance, especially our most at-risk students,” he said in a statement. “We cannot start addressing these consequences if we do not fully understand them.”
Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), The top Democrat on the Senate Education Committee, also emphasized the importance of the ratings required by federal law. “Especially when it comes to the differences that harm so many color students, students with disabilities and low-income students, we need to have data that shows us where we’re falling short so we can better serve these students,” she said .
Both Scott and Murray said Congress needs to allocate more resources to safely reopen schools, avoid teacher layoffs, and provide services to students during the pandemic.
Murray said if President Donald Trump and Republicans “are in any way serious about making sure schools can keep our children studying, they must stop blocking our bill to finally give schools the resources that they need.”
Democrats and Republicans in Congress have both called for more funding for schools and colleges, but negotiations on the next coronavirus aid package have stalled.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, criticized DeVos’ announcement, saying the education secretary should focus on helping schools reopen safely rather than “dictating how they should be measured”.
“Rather than focusing on the support our children need to get back to school safely or what she can do to help, her first goal is to let them know that she is taking high stakes tests,” Weingarten said in a statement. “Of course, accountability matters, as does data, but right now educators and students are grappling with the day-to-day realities of distance learning and returning to potentially unsafe work environments.”