Democrats: Measuring Scope of School Learning Loss due to COVID-19 Essential

Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos sent letters to the Members announcing the Department’s decision to postpone the 2021
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Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) issued the following statement after Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos sent letters to the Members announcing the Department’s decision to postpone the 2021 administration of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).

“As a result of nationwide school closures, existing achievement gaps are widening for our most vulnerable students, including students from families with low incomes, students with disabilities, English learners, and students of color. In order for our nation to recover and rebuild from the pandemic, we must first understand the magnitude of learning loss that has impacted students across the country. That cannot happen without assessment data.

“On the advice of the National Center for Education Statistics, Secretary DeVos has determined that administration of The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, for the current school year is not feasible due to the reliance on outside personnel for in-person administration and the inability to yield a valid and reliable representative sample. While the decision to postpone NAEP is unfortunate, it is understandable.

“Today’s announcement makes 2021 administration of statewide assessments required by federal law a moral imperative. In the absence of NAEP and without statewide assessments, parents, educators, and policymakers would have zero data on the scope of learning loss. While the administration of statewide assessments this school year will not be without challenge, we urge the Department to work with states to allow for flexibilities that are consistent with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to maximize student participation. Parents and educators deserve student level data.

“We stand ready to work with the Department, now and under the incoming administration, to ensure we have the data necessary to best support students and educators as we recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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