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WA Students Get Reprieve From Spring Standardized Tests

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Students in Washington are getting a reprieve this spring from their annual state-mandated standardized tests.

Washington state school Superintendent Chris Reykdal wanted to try something different when it came to this spring’s federally-mandated standardized tests.

“There’s this significant worry that we have very little instructional time left," he said.So his agency proposed a new idea to the federal Department of Education.

“Rather than haul in 700,000 kids and give them the equivalent of 17 exams across all those grades, we pitched a sample, 50,000 student sample, one of the biggest ever," he said.

He said his office would work with the University of Washington.

“We could control for geography, age, race, gender, you name it, a very representative sample. That would have given us the best scientific look at what the learning impacts have been over this last year," he said, without more than 90% of the students having to take the test. The feds said no. So Reykdal decided to bag the tests for this spring and arrange for them to be taken in the fall instead.

That means students in the third-through-eighth grades and high school sophomores and juniors won’t have to worry about tests before school ends this summer.

Reykdal says tests are continuing for some other students, federally-required tests for students with profound developmental disabilities and for students for whom English is a second language. He says students have the option to take those this spring or in the fall if they want.

Reykdal says the state will work with the testing companies to try to shorten the tests in the fall. Even if that comes about, he acknowledges students and teaches may experience some test fatigue then.

“It’s on top of the fact that they already have assessments they use, primarily in the fall, in reading and math that are local because they want more immediate feedback for their students. So, the combination of local assessments and the federally-mandated tests is where people get a little frustrated with how much time we spend on those," he said.

Reykdal says many districts will offer summer instruction to students, either through state programs or using aid money from the federal government.