ERN DC Statement on the United States Department of Education’s approval of the Office of the State Superintendent’s One-Year Waiver Request

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 8, 2021) — Today, Education Reform Now DC released the following statement regarding the United States Department of Education’s (ED) approval of the Office of the State Superintendent’s (OSSE) one-year waiver from administering statewide assessment and reporting requirements for the 2020-2021 school year under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

“For more than a year, our students and their families have been grappling with the COVID-19-related challenges of illness, death, income loss, social isolation, and daily disruptions. Our school leaders and educators have performed miracles to ensure learning continues. Yet, an overwhelming majority of students are learning virtually, and some students have become disengaged this school year. As we move into the summer and fall, we must continue to prioritize building trust, reconnecting students and families with learning, mental health, and social-emotional supports, and preparing for safe in-person instruction this fall.

As OSSE moves forward, we continue to urge the state education agency to ensure these equity guardrails are in place:

  1. Ensure local education agencies (LEAs) administer assessments that provide reliable and valid data aligned to the Common Core standards so parents/guardians, educators, and students can have accurate information about how our students perform academically.
  2. Ensure LEAs have the support needed to disaggregate and report out data from their local interim assessments by each racial, ethnic, immigrant/newcomer group, and other student subgroups – consistent with the requirements of federal law, or going above them to advance equity.
  3. Publish the plans LEAs submit regarding “local interim assessments to drive instruction, provide additional programmatic interventions, and direct federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funding.” This way, parents, guardians, and the community can know what type of support students should be receiving and can advocate for equitable implementation.
  4. Provide clear, transparent, and timely “state-provided supports, state-provided technical assistance, and oversight through annual monitoring and oversight activities.” Now more than ever, LEAs will need support in accelerating learning and supporting students’ well-being.
  5. Conduct a cross-sector survey of educators, students, and families’ physical and mental well-being, opportunities to learn, and contextualize data regarding connectivity, access to in-person instruction, and type of remote instruction this spring and throughout the recovery period to begin the process of reimagining public education in DC.
  6. Anticipate barriers and overcome them so that all statewide assessments can be successfully administered in the spring of the school year 2021-2022.”