Hawaii’s public school students normally take a battery of federally mandated standardized tests each spring but it looks like they will get a break this year.
The state is taking advantage of an option offered by the U.S. Department of Education to cancel the testing due to the closure of schools amid the COVID-19 public health crisis. The issue will be taken up at the Board of Education’s tele-meeting on April 2 and public comments are being sought.
Hawaii’s Department of Education applied for a waiver after the federal government announced the opportunity on Friday and it was quickly granted, giving the state approval to skip the tests this year. The department noted that it was unable to bring children together for large-scale test administration and the waiver was in the interest of the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.
The tests affected are the Smarter Balanced Assessments in English and math, given in third through eighth grade as well as grade 11; the Hawaii State Science Assessments and Biology 1 end-of-course exams; Hawaii State Alternate Assessments; and the Kaiapuni Assessment of Educational Outcomes in the Hawaiian language. The testing is part of the federal accountability system that tracks academic results by school and different student groups.
“At this time, the top priority of our haumana and staff should be staying healthy and adapting to their new learning environments,” Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said. “In these unprecedented times with rapidly changing conditions, the department’s efforts are focused on helping students continue to learn and grow through alternative instructional delivery methods.”
Instead of using the 2020 spring results, school reports will reflect test scores from the 2019-20 school year.