How to reimagine testing in post-COVID education

Innovations are urgently needed to adapt testing to online and hybrid learning
By: | July 14, 2020
The nonprofit assessment organization NWEA has recommended a slate of state and federal policies lawmakers can enact to develop more effective tests as students adapt to online and hybrid learning.(GettyImages/Will & Deni McIntyre)The nonprofit assessment organization NWEA has recommended a slate of state and federal policies lawmakers can enact to develop more effective tests as students adapt to online and hybrid learning.(GettyImages/Will & Deni McIntyre)

To stem “COVID slide” learning loss, new policies are needed to boost testing equity and to adapt assessments to online and hybrid learning, according to NWEA.

The nonprofit assessment organization has recommended a slate of state and federal policies lawmakers can enact to reform testing as schools cope with and recover from the coronavirus outbreak.

“Instead of enacting short-term solutions, state and federal policies should focus on reimagining our educational system into one that reduces inequities and best equips future generations with the skills they need to thrive within the modern economic system,” Aaliyah Samuel, NWEA’s vice president of policy and advocacy, said in a statement.

First, NWEA is urging lawmakers to mandate that students with disabilities have equal access to instruction and assessments, and that all accommodations are aligned with individualized education plan (IEP) goals.


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The organization also encourages increased investment in remote proctoring to ensure privacy and security when students take assessments online. Also, state lawmakers should fund testing innovations that evaluate academic growth and proficiency more effectively and transparently.

Finally, measuring student growth over two years—instead of just one—will help educators develop school improvement goals that account for the greater impact COVID  had has on students of color.

Federal reforms for better testing

At the federal level, officials should also provide more funding for assessment strategies that are tailored to online and hybrid learning.


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Another key step would be to incentivize partnerships between states and research institutions to develop these new assessment approaches, NWEA suggests.

Rather than offering school districts blanket waives for testing in spring 2021, officials should provide K-12 leaders with more flexibility to meet accountability standards.

Finally, the U.S. Department of Education should work with states and school systems to eliminate testing redundancies, NWEA recommends.


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.