By Lizzeth Mancilla
Engagement and Policy Intern


In this webinar, Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal outlined what he knows about this historic and challenging year’s requirements for state testing and answered your questions.

This LEVinar was meant to be a forum and opportunity for discussion, questions, and understanding about an issue that will affect many families this spring. Our goal is to support families in better understanding what to expect regarding statewide assessments.

Back in February, the U.S. Department of Education informed education leaders that standardized testing would still be required this school year. However, they’re allowing states to submit requests in order to waive some requirements for assessment and accountability. The main component of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) waiver is to test a “statistically representative sample” of 50,000 students as opposed to all 700,000 students.

OSPI would work with the University of Washington to help identify the sample of 50,000 students who would each be tested in one content area (math, science, English Language Arts). State Superintendent Reykdal believes the results will allow them to understand how COVID-19 has impacted various student groups geographically, but also by race, disabilities, and learning models. These results would then inform districts on how to drive federal recovery and acceleration resources.

Given that some students receive in-person instruction, hybrid instruction, and others are learning remotely at home, State Superintendent Reykdal mentioned that we run into some equity problems in offering the Smarter Balanced assessment remotely. “How do you control the reliability of those results when some students are being proctored and overseen in schools and some students are sitting at home by themselves or with a parent right next to them?” He mentioned that OSPI understands that remote testing can be done, but believe their proposal will allow OSPI to “powerfully [tell] the story of what has happened over the last year specifically around student groups who have likely been disproportionately impacted.”

In case the waiver isn’t granted, then Washington will proceed with assessing all 3rd-8th grade students, 10th graders, and 11th graders as directed by the U.S. Department of Education. State Superintendent Reykdal explains that Washington is ready to do so, but would logistically face more difficulties than testing the proposed sample. Furthermore, families would have the option to opt-out of testing if they would like.

For more information, including sampling selection criteria, high school graduation pathways, analysis of results, the ongoing Social-Emotional Learning survey for 6th-12th graders, communication/outreach tactics, and more, watch the full LEVinar recording here (closed captioning is available in English and Spanish). You can also read the audio transcript.


Also, here are the answers to the two questions that State Superintendent Reykdal promised to research:

Q: For high school seniors who have an Individualized Educational Program (IEP), would there be the option to participate in off-grade level testing in order to meet graduation requirements? The Class of 2021 still has access to the Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) diploma and some students would benefit from being able to take the off-grade level tests.

A: Yes, 2021 students with an active IEP (Individualized Educational Program) have access to the CIA options – LDA (Locally-Determined Assessments), Off-Grade SBA (Smarter Balanced Assessment), and CIA Cut Score (Level 2 Basic).

Q: Will we be able to award students the Seal of Biliteracy if they haven’t taken the SBA English Language Arts test?

A: The Seal of Biliteracy is consistent with the bulletin we (OSPI) issued last spring (when the SBA was not offered).


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