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News >  K-12 education

Students in Washington won’t have to take two standardized tests this spring, OSPI says

UPDATED: Wed., April 14, 2021

Chris Reykdal, Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, talks to reporters in 2017.  (Ted S. Warren/AP)
Chris Reykdal, Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, talks to reporters in 2017. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Students in Washington won’t be taking two important standardized tests this spring, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said Wednesday.

Instead, the Smarter Balanced Assessments and the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science will probably be administered in the fall – a timeline “consistent with guidance provided by the (federal) Department to satisfy federal testing requirements,” Reykdal said.

There’s also a chance those tests will be replaced with what Reykdal termed “locally determined assessments that are more informative and actionable measures of student learning as they prepare for the next school year and beyond.”

According to Reykdal, the decision comes after the U.S. Department of Education “was not supportive” of an Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction proposal submitted on March 25 to test a “statistically representative sample of approximately 50,000 students” instead of the typical 700,000 students.

“In the end, we had different values,” Reykdal said. “They were seeking to test as many students as possible this spring, and we know this approach did not support the mental health of Washington’s students; nor is it the best use of our limited remaining in-person instructional hours this spring.”

The decision won support from the state teachers union and Spokane Public Schools.

“Spokane Public Schools greatly appreciates OSPI’s approach to providing flexibility regarding the timing of state assessments, as we look forward to focusing class time this spring on targeted interventions and support that will best promote student learning and wellbeing,” Superintendent Adam Swinyard said Wednesday.

Larry Delaney, president of the Washington Education Association, said the decision to forgo spring testing will maximize instruction time and “create the safe and just learning environments our students and educators need right now.”

Delaney added that districts should prioritize students “who have been hardest hit during the pandemic – our Black, brown, rural, Indigenous, and special-needs students. If we want to meaningfully address opportunity gaps, we should put as much focus on the inputs necessary to successfully educate our students as we do on the outputs.”

According to Wednesday’s announcement, OSPI has begun planning for a fall assessment window “consistent with federal requirements” and the possibility of reducing the time needed to administer state assessments in the fall and beyond.

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