There will be continued academic challenges due to COVID-19 that will last beyond the current school year. To effectively address each student’s needs, teachers must use appropriate and timely assessments to better inform instruction, address student learning gaps, and provide appropriate feedback to parents. Schools already have a number of diagnostic tools that can be used locally to meet these needs. These types of formative assessments should be low-stakes and used to identify strengths and weaknesses in areas that need improvement. Periodic assessments should continue throughout the year to track short and long-term goals.
COVID-19 caused an abrupt transition to remote learning and for some students, a complete loss of instructional time due to the lack of internet access. As a result, 5.4 million students returned to school in the fall of 2020 with more pronounced academic and social-emotional needs.
As preliminary research shows, significant student learning losses, known as “COVID slide,” can be expected. According to the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), students will “return with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year. However, in mathematics, students are likely to show much smaller learning gains, returning with less than 50% of the learning gains and in some grades, nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions.”1
Now is the moment to have a thoughtful discussion about our state’s assessment system so that our students, parents, and teachers have timely access to relevant information both during COVID and beyond.