COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Students in South Carolina will undergo standardized testing this spring, despite a request to have those tests waived.
The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) asked the federal government to waive mandatory assessments.
That request was denied by the Biden administration, to the dismay of State Superintendent Molly Spearman.
“Our proposal to use a series of interim tests that can be easily administered to all students -- both virtual and face to face -- would have provided educators and families with immediate, student-centered results to drive instruction and deploy resources to support struggling learners,” Spearman said. “Washington D.C. thinks they know best and now educators and students will be forced to spend an inordinate amount of time preparing, administering, and taking tests whose (sic) results won’t be known for months.”
Teachers are upset and believe standardized tests aren’t helpful for catching students up.
“Speaking as a high school biology teacher who has given the EOC test, I get no feedback on that test so I don’t know how to gauge my teaching for the next year,” South Carolina Education Association President Sherry East said. “We’re very disappointed and actually angry about this.”
Further, teachers said that the standardized tests cut into weeks of critical learning time.
“The normal battery of summative assessments, SC Ready, SC Pass, and End of Course exams that our schools give every Spring are highly disruptive of instruction time, shutting down at least a week of a school’s ordinary schedule,” Palmetto State Teachers Association Director of Governmental Affairs Patrick Kelly said.
The state testing window will open on April 15. Schools must complete assessments in the last 30 days of their school year.
Federally-required standardized tests in South Carolina include:
- South Carolina College-and Career-Ready Assessments (SC READY) in English language arts and mathematics (grades 3-8)
- South Carolina Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (SCPASS) in science (grades 4 and 6)
- End-of-Course examinations in Biology, Algebra, U.S. History and the Constitution, and English (all grades)
- English Language Proficiency and alternate assessments (when applicable)
While the testing requirement will stand, the U.S. Department of Education is being lenient with schools this year.
There will be no penalty -- at any level -- for a student not taking a test.
If parents do not want their children to go to school in-person to take the tests, the SCDE will not require them to do so.
“While we encourage all students to participate, we are relying on and empowering families to make the best decision for their child when it comes to end-of-the-year tests,” Spearman said.
However, many teachers still worry that this will put unnecessary stress on educators and students.
“I’ve watched high school students cry taking one of these tests because of the stress and stakes that are involved,” Kelly said. “While as adults it might be easy for us to say don’t worry it doesn’t count this year, it doesn’t quite work that way for a 10-year-old who has decided the test is critically important for their academic future.”