Action alert: Suspend high-stakes standardized testing for 2021!

Important news from the IL State Board of Education last night, no federally-mandated testing for 2021 will take place in Illinois until at least March 15.

This is a big deal. Despite the fact that states have begun to request waivers for 2021 tests, the outgoing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has said none will be granted. The incoming Biden administration has not yet said where they stand on a moratorium on standardized testing

Testing season in Illinois was set to begin January 4th with the ACCESS test, a mandatory annual test of proficiency for English-language learners that can only be administered in person. The majority of EL students in Illinois speak Spanish, and the demographic hardest hit by COVID-19 in our state is the Latinx community. Parents, teachers and administrators spoke at the ISBE Board meeting on Wednesday about the folly of asking families to send children into school buildings only for the purpose of ACCESS testing. 

Carrying out ACCESS testing is resource-intensive and complex in non-pandemic times. Schools spend a month or more administering it; teachers often need substitutes to cover regular classroom instruction. Now with restrictions on sharing equipment like headphones and microphones, the need for masks that make evaluating speaking and listening less valid, and schools’ technology inventory split between homes and schools, it looks to be a logistical nightmare. On top of that schools do not receive ACCESS results until June when school is ending for the year, and so they have little relevance for teaching practice under the best of circumstances.  

The issues with ACCESS are especially timely and dire, but they are likely to be repeated later in the spring with all federally-mandated testing, including the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR), if the feds do not grant states waivers or if Illinois chooses not to pursue one. And so, IL Families for Public Schools has been working with a national coalition of organizations led by Fair Test on a petition that both individuals and organizations can sign calling for a nationwide moratorium on federally-mandated standardized testing this year.

If you agree that the time and resources required to test students this year would be better spent educating and supporting them, take a second to sign the petition here.

If your organization would like to endorse the petition as well, please email us directly: [email protected]

Thanks for your advocacy!


[Graphic used via Creative Commons]