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Lacking COVID-19 Waiver, Kentucky Moving Forward with Plans to Test K-12 Students

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The Kentucky Department of Education is preparing to administer state assessments this spring, despite disruptions in learning brought on by COVID-19. The tests are expected to reveal the impact of the pandemic on student achievement.

The U.S. Department of Education, so far, has not granted waivers on statewide testing as it did for the 2019-2020 school year. In a Sept. 3 letter to Chief State School Officers, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrote that states should not anticipate such waivers this academic year.

Kentucky administers tests in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and 10; in science at grades 4, 7 and 11; and in social studies and writing at grades 5, 8 and 11. 

In addition, students in 11th grade take a state administration of the ACT.

Known as K-PREP, the statewide tests help determine if students are meeting academic expectations and are administered during the last two weeks of the school year. 

According to guidance from the Kentucky Department of Education, state assessments are needed even more this year to gain a clearer picture of the pandemic’s impact on student learning. 

The tests will be given in-person, but flexible testing windows will be offered, as well as an option to bring in small groups of full-time virtual students.  Tests will not be given remotely.

The KDE's guidance, released on Feb. 15, notes there are many unknowns, and the guidance could change as the pandemic unfolds.

Statewide assessments are required by state and federal law unless granted a waiver.  A 95% participation rate in annual state assessments is required under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a federal education law for all public schools in America.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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