Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, recommended waiving the passing requirements for statewide 3rd grade reading and high school end-of-course assessments for the 2020-21 school year. The recommendation was included in a presentation today to the Mississippi Senate Education Committee.
“I think this year is a year of grace,” Wright said. “I understand that COVID-19 has disrupted teaching and learning this school year, and we want to make sure we support teachers, administrators and students as much as possible.”
Statewide assessments will take place as scheduled this year to measure statewide student progress, assess the impact of COVID-19 disruptions on learning and meet U.S. Department of Education requirements.
“Statewide assessments provide critical data to the department to identify any learning gaps and what resources the state needs to accelerate learning opportunities for students and professional development for teachers,” Wright said.
The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) is working with technical advisers to examine ways to meet requirements of federal law to address accountability concerns. MDE recommends all districts and schools retain their letter grade from the 2018-19 school year for the 2020-21 school year. All recommendations in assessment and accountability are subject to policy decisions from the incoming presidential administration.
Mississippi lawmakers requested information from MDE on the impact of the pandemic on public education and how the MDE is addressing student needs.
Wright said MDE will continue to help districts plan afterschool, enrichment and summer learning opportunities. Literacy-Based Promotion Act funds could fund summer reading camps, afterschool programs and reading enrichment programs. These funds are available because of reduced face-to-face training and travel costs due to COVID-19. Districts are expected to use federal funds to support literacy and learning efforts as well.