State lawmakers ask feds to waive school test mandate

HARRISBURG (AP) — The chairs of Pennsylvania’s state Senate Education Committee on Wednesday asked the Biden administration to waive this year’s requirement for school standardized testing because of the pandemic.

Sens. Lindsey Williams, D-Allegheny, and Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, wrote in a letter that they understood the need to find out how much learning and what kind of learning children missed during the pandemic.

But students also need “some sense of stability before we thrust additional stress on them in the name of determining what schools ‘deserve’ more funding,” they wrote to President Joe Biden and Acting Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s Department of Education is considering allowing districts to administer the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments and Keystone Exams over the summer or in September, when schools are expected to be back to educating children in classrooms, rather than remotely.

On Monday, the U.S. Education Department said it will not allow states to forgo federally required standardized testing in schools this year, but will give them flexibility to delay testing or hold it online.

The Biden administration said states also can apply to be exempted from certain accountability measures tied to the results. States will be allowed to move tests to the summer or fall, or they can offer shortened tests or online assessments.