NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Standardized testing will happen this spring for New Mexico students but the focus is shifting. The U.S. Department of Education, this week, granted New Mexico’s request for an accountability waiver which means schools won’t be ranked by grades. Instead, the results will be used to gauge academic achievement after a year of mostly remote learning.
“This waiver will allow New Mexico educators to get the student achievement data we need to guide accelerated learning programs without adding stressful consequences at the end of an already stressful school year,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said in a news release. “We are pleased that the U.S. Department of Education was attentive and receptive to our state context and request for flexibility.”
The letter also waives the requirement to test 95% of all students. Students are encouraged to participate but are not required to. According to a news release, students who remained in remote learning, schools, and districts will have the option of using locally designed assessments, the state’s formative assessment system, or other local measures of academic progress.
The U.S. Department of Education waived spring tests across the country last year after schools moved to remote learning due to the pandemic and the agency says it would not issue a blanket waiver but invited states to request flexibility, according to the news release.
Due to the waiver, the state will not be required to use 2020-2021 testing data to identify schools for comprehensive support and improvement, targeted support and improvement and additional targeted support and improvement but instead, schools so identified in the 2019-2020 school year will retain that status for another year, according to the news release.