The Little Rock School Board adopted a resolution urging the state Division of Elementary and Secondary Education to allow the LRSD to administer annual standardized tests remotely to virtual learners.

The Biden Administration announced this week that, while it would not grant blanket waivers allowing states to forego standardized tests for a second year, it would allow testing to be offered remotely. The administration also said that schools that test fewer than the typically required 95 percent of students would not be penalized.

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There’s no penalty for Arkansas public school families or students who opt out of testing.

The state will require onsite testing, Kimberly Mundell, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said today. She pointed to guidance from the department that gives districts a larger testing window in which to offer the tests and grants flexibility on where they offer them (citing as an example community centers, where greater spacing could be achieved, as options).

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Ali Noland (Zone 5) proposed the resolution, which noted that 42 percent of LRSD students are attending school virtually. She said she’d heard from many parents who were concerned about sending their kids to school for the test.

Greg Adams (Zone 8) wondered if the testing data would be compromised if students were testing in different settings.

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“When you have different testing environments, it does affect the validity of the data,” Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Owoh said.

Noland said she understood that. “But the issue is that we’re in an ongoing pandemic.” Having data would be better than not having the data, she said.

While students are not legally required to test, district teachers and principals will nonetheless be telling families that students are required to take the test, Owoh confirmed. The district’s charge from the state will be to get as many students to take the test as possible, Superintendent Mike Poore said.