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SNAPSHOT | Policy Primer

ESSA Testing Rules: The Public Weighs In

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The U.S. Department of Education recently released two sets of proposed regulations that deal with how student testing will work under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The official “comment period” ended earlier this month, and more than 100 educators, parents, and advocates took the opportunity to offer their thoughts. The department is supposed to take those comments into consideration and respond to them before releasing its final regulations this fall, likely in November.

The comments were on both the Innovative Assessment pilot—which will allow a handful of states to use new types of local tests for accountability purposes—and testing in general under the new law, including exams for English-language learners and students in special education, computer-adaptive testing, and district-level tests for high school students. More than 30 comments were offered on the pilot, and more than 70 on testing in general.


Virginia Department of Education:

Steven Staples, Virginia’s state schools chief, thinks that the draft regulations make it too hard for a state to get flexibility from a 1 percent cap on tests for students with severe cognitive disabilities.

National PTA:

The group suggested requiring parental information about tests to be translated into the second-most-popular language in a state other than English.

ACT Inc.:

The testing company wants to make sure any accommodations for students in special education or ELLs on nationally recognized high school tests used for accountability in place of the state exam preserve the validity, predictability, and reliability of those tests. Such tests include the SAT or ACT.

School Social Work Association of America:

The group called the draft regulations “generally solid,” but wants to see a requirement for all school staff members to get training on how to help ELLs and students in special education deal with testing.

National Down Syndrome Congress:

The group likes the way the department proposes handling tests for students in special education, but it wants more specific guidance on how states should define “severe cognitive disabilities” and what tests should look like for children who have them.

Innovative Testing Pilot

Council of Chief State School Officers:

The organization would like to give states more time to develop their new testing systems before they have to be used for accountability purposes.

American Federation of Teachers:

The union is worried that the department’s criteria for proving tests are comparable across a state is too restrictive.

Foundation for Excellence in Education:

Overall, this organization, which was started by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, was supportive of the proposal, but it had some suggestions about under what circumstances the department should grant states extra time for the pilot.

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Education; Education Week

Vol. 36, Issue 05, Page 14

Published in Print: September 21, 2016, as ESSA Testing Rules: The Public Weighs In
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