New York school districts will have to give assessment tests to students this year, but they will be allowed to delay or change the tests, the federal government says.

There won’t be any “blanket waivers” of exams in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Last year, standardized tests were waived entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Each state can can decide whether to make the tests shorter, give them remotely or not give them until the summer or fall.

These exams are given primarily in reading, math and science.

The New York State Education Department, which had asked for a federal waiver for the tests, said Tuesday it is disappointed by the decision. They did say, however, that the feds were right in saying no child will be forced to come to school to take the tests.

The department agreed with the decision to separate these tests from accountability measures so no schools will be penalized by the test results, state education department officials said in a statement.

The New York State United Teachers rebuked the federal government’s decision on Tuesday.

“In a year that has been anything but standard, mandating that students take standardized tests just doesn’t make sense,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “As the educators in the classroom, we have always known that standardized tests are not the best way to measure a child’s development, and they are especially unreliable right now.”

Pallotta said educators need to ensure that students who have been hit hardest during the pandemic shouldn’t be sized up “with inequitable and stressful exams.”

NYSUT had encouraged the state to request a federal waiver of grades 3–8 and high school testing requirements.These are the standardized tests given in New York state:

• Grades 3-8 mathematics

• Grade 4 elementary-level science

• Grade 8 intermediate-level science

• English as a Second Language achievement

• Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) for students with severe cognitive disabilities in grades 3-8 and high school

The state education department said it plans to propose a series of regulatory amendments at the March Board of Regents meeting so Regents exams aren’t required to meet graduation requirements.

Any Regents exam not required by the feds also would be canceled, the state said.

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