Virginia looks to relax testing, accreditation, graduation requirements in schools

Virginia looks to relax testing, accreditation, graduation requirements in schools
Virginia’s State Superintendence is working to relax federal and state testing, school accreditation, and graduation requirements following statewide school closures due to the coronavirus. (Source: Pixabay)

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) - Virginia’s State Superintendence is working to relax federal and state testing, school accreditation, and graduation requirements following statewide school closures due to the coronavirus.

The Virginia Department of Education will work to add flexibility for schools and students as educators work to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced Tuesday.

“This is an unprecedented situation with schools closed statewide for two weeks and the very real possibility of a significantly longer shutdown,” Lane said.

The two-week shutdown ordered last week came as eighth graders and high school students were taking SOL writing tests.

The VDOE has already extended testing windows, but the department is planning for further flexibility.

The commonwealth will work to get rid of testing requirements under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

The ESSA requires annual testing in reading and math from third to eighth grade and at least once in high school. The federal law also requires a science test to be issued once in elementary, middle and high school.

“Last week, the U.S. Department of Education said it would consider issuing waivers for individual schools impacted by COVID-19,” Lane said. “We are beyond that now, and ask our federal partners for a process to grant statewide relief so states and schools can focus on the health and wellbeing of students.”

Regulations on school accreditation ratings will also be reviewed, especially in areas related to state assessments.

“These are extraordinary times and it would not be fair to our students, teachers, principals and other educators to have the accreditation ratings of their schools suffer next year because of the coronavirus pandemic,” Virginia Board of Education President Daniel Gecker said.

State graduation requirements could also be adjusted to help seniors earn their diploma this spring despite these changes to the school year.

The goal is to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on students and make sure districts will not suffer because of these unprecedented disruptions.

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