School leaders in Oregon and Washington are increasingly saying no to standardized testing this year.

With a message published Wednesday, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said the needs of the state’s students “cannot be achieved” with the U.S. Department of Education’s current testing plan.

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“Washington has been granted an accountability waiver, but thus far has not received the flexibility students, families, and educators need for spring assessments,” Reykdal wrote.

“I have made the determination that Washington state will not be administering the Smarter Balanced Assessments or the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science this spring.”

Instead, Reykdal said the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction will plan for testing in the fall, as well as the “need to substantially reduce the length of state assessments” in the future.

In his message, Reykdal thanked the U.S. Department of Education for their communications, but disagreed with the agency.

“In the end, we had different values,” Reykdal said. “They were seeking to test as many students as possible this spring, and we know this approach did not support the mental health of Washington’s students; nor is it the best use of our limited remaining in-person instructional hours this spring.”

Reykdal’s move follows resolutions from Oregon’s two largest school districts, Portland and Salem-Keizer, to not administer standardized tests this year. Both resolutions passed at board meetings Tuesday.

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“Even if we went through all the logistical preparations to proctor this option, it wouldn’t be meaningful to assessing system performance across the district,” said Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero during the meeting.

Other Oregon districts have already taken a similar step, including Ashland, Oregon Trail, and Eagle Point.

For Oregon school districts, completely opting-out of state assessments or changing the procedure so that parents opt-in to testing is a violation of the state’s Division 22 policy. Districts taking these actions will have to report being out of compliance with standards, as well as provide a “corrective action plan” to come into compliance next school year.

If they don’t, state school funds could be affected, according to the Oregon Department of Education.

The Oregon School Boards Association supports allowing districts to get students back into school and back on track without a penalty.

“Bringing kids back into the classroom and have them take standardized tests that literally mean nothing to the students or the district is a waste of time,” said Jim Green, OSBA executive director.

“As our communities recover from the pandemic and we reopen classrooms, our schools should be focused on learning.”





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