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Oklahoma State Department of Education Suspends State Testing for the School Year


The Oklahoma State Department of Education has suspended state testing for the 2019–2020 school year.

The agency will apply for a federal waiver because the Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to test students on English language arts, math and science in grades 3–8 and once in high school, but State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said testing will not happen.

"It’s off the table. We’ve made the decision. If we get any pushback for some reason, I will have that fight," Hofmeister said.

The U.S. Department of Education has indicated it will consider waivers requested by states with widespread closures related to COVID-19.

The State Board of Education approved closing Oklahoma's public schools earlier this week. The board's action closes schools until April 6, but an extension is possible.

"We are certainly preparing for that. That would be something that would have to have board action, but that its what we must be prepared to do," Hofmeister said.

Schools are busy right now figuring out ways to provide meals to students and planning alternative instruction methods.

"Their priority cannot be with assessments that would be of questionable validity in the wake of a global pandemic. Assessments are very important tools, but they do not outweigh other considerations during this time of uncertainty," Hofmeister said.

Hofmeister urged educators and families to practice social distancing and observe other prevention strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The state's waiver request will also ask to suspend the Oklahoma School Report Card for the current school year. The report cards are largely based on state testing.

At least 39 states have closed schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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