NEA President Becky Pringle: Educators call for standardized tests to be canceled during the pandemic

American students are still navigating the most difficult year of learning in modern history. The last thing they need is to be forced to take a stressful test that will not be an effective barometer of their needs and accomplishments.

American students are still navigating the most difficult year of learning in modern history. Between losing loved ones to COVID-19, being forced out of classrooms, adapting to distance learning, and missing out on a year of regular social interactions—they have had their worlds turned upside down.

The last thing they need is to take a stressful, ineffective standardized test. We, the undersigned, are educators, parents, families, caregivers, students, and community members. We demand all departments of education think beyond the bubble and stop high-stakes testing this year.

#CancelTheTest Add your name to the open letter and urge the Department of Education and state governments to cancel the tests.

There will be nothing standard about how testing will be administered this year. Any data collected that forces comparisons between and among schools, districts, educators, and students across states will be invalid and could lead to the gutting of funding and resources for those that need it most.

These tests are not capable of collecting the kind of information needed to target supports and resources. We need to rely on the expertise of educators who understand students’ physical, social, mental, and emotional needs at this time—not two-dimensional data from a multiple choice test.

We must ensure that our students who have been hardest hit during the pandemic—our Black, brown, rural, indigenous students, as well as those with special needs—receive the support they need. The educators and communities who know them best must have the flexibility to tailor assessments that can determine where students are and help design an educational experience that fully supports their academic, social, and emotional needs.

Standardized high-stakes testing should not come at the expense of precious learning time that students could be spending with their educators.

We believe in an educational system that focuses on and measures what our students truly need—skills like creativity, leadership, critical thinking, and collaboration.

A better future for education is possible, and the first step is to start thinking beyond the bubble and stop high stakes testing this year.


With an accepted federal waiver, the state would not be required to rank schools per the federal Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) or identify new Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) Schools and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) Schools in the fall of 2021. Previously identified CSI and TSI schools would continue to receive support.

The state would also be able to move (and shorten) the administration of the MCAP, which had been scheduled for the spring of 2021, to the fall of 2021. MSDE is also seeking a waiver so schools would not be required to administer science assessments for grades 5, 8, and high school.

MSEA and NEA continue to lobby against administering this year’s assessments at all, and NEA has launched the #CancelTheTests campaign to build support for this goal. According to the Washington Post, “540 education researchers and scholars are asking to reconsider his department’s decision requiring school districts to administer federally mandated standardized tests this pandemic year, saying the exams will ‘exacerbate inequality’ and ‘produce flawed data.’”

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