Federal student assessment test canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Montana education officials announced Thursday that a standardized federal test used to assess the progress of students across the country was canceled this spring. This leaves the state with few options to monitor student learning progress amid the pandemic.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, is the only fully standardized federal test, giving federal and state education officials an apple-to-apple comparison of student progress between individual schools and states as a whole.

Montana Office of Public Instruction spokesperson Dylan Klapmeier said distance education during the pandemic is a logistical barrier for schools in Montana due to take the test this spring.

“There was no guarantee that we were going to get consistent and reliable data from this test that actually reflected the learning being done and the impact of COVID on that learning. “

Klapmeier says the OPI is still waiting to hear from federal education officials on whether other federally mandated tests, such as the Smarter Balanced Assessment or ACT, will be canceled.

“The OPI’s preference would be that these tests be canceled for the next spring semester.”

Typically, OPI uses these federal tests in its accreditation process for schools. Klapmeier says schools always give students local assessment tests.

Klapmeier says OPI is still considering using local benchmarking tests to gauge student progress if those federal tests are canceled. However, with districts using a variety of testing products, it would be difficult to get a consistent picture of student progress and the impact of the pandemic on student learning.

According to the Northwest Evaluation Association, the pandemic did not slow down student learning as severely as some had predicted. According to preliminary data from the association, students in the United States made gains in reading and suffered only minor losses in math.