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Standardized tests mandated, but unclear how Nevada will be impacted

The U.S. Department of Education announced Monday that it will require states to administer standardized tests this year but will offer some flexibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s unclear yet how Nevada’s public schools will be affected. The Nevada Department of Education is reviewing the guidance and will provide an update when it’s able, spokeswoman Jessica Todtman told the Review-Journal on Monday.

States will have options such as moving testing to summer or fall, giving tests remotely or shortening their state assessment, the U.S. Department of Education said in a news release.

And states can request a waiver to get relief from certain federal Every Student Succeeds Act requirements, including that at least 95 percent of students must participate in testing.

The federal education department will work with states to address “individual needs and conditions while ensuring the maximum available statewide data to inform the targeting of resources and support,” according to the news release.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education approved waivers for every state by late March — shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up — saying they could skip federally mandated standardized testing.

Nevada’s largest school district — the Clark County School District — has operated with 100 percent distance learning since March 2020 due to the pandemic. The district is bringing back pre-K through third grade students under a hybrid model starting March 1. Parents also have the option of having their child continue with full distance learning.

In a Monday night Q&A session with the CCSD Parents Facebook group, Superintendent Jesus Jara said: “There are federal requirements that we have to administer assessments. The data, you’re right, it may be unreliable, but we have to find a way to know where our kids are. The reason we’re testing is that it’s federally mandated.”

Moderator Andrea Cole asked if it would be possible to do an activity for students before the testing window so their first experience in their school this year isn’t a high-stakes test.

Jara said this was discussed between superintendents nationally on a call with the U.S. Department of Education.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Aleksandra Appleton contributed to this report.

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