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Assessment testing brings questions this winter

Austin Public Schools is facing a number of questions in terms of standardized testing when it resumes towards the end of February.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools across the state were shut down, state assessment testing was shut down. That will not be the case this year as testing is scheduled to start on Jan. 25.

According to Corey Haugen, Director of Research Evaluation and Assessment for APS, testing will still go forward in the district, but how that will look will have to be altered.

In past years, testing was generally put into two 90-minute periods.

“Right now, with the distance learning option for families … some families don’t feel comfortable coming in person,” Haugen said.  “We do have the test, but what we’re waiting on is determining what that’s going to look like for remote learners.”

The question is test security.

“It’s primarily test security and making sure a student isn’t using outside resources,” Haugen said. “We have a pretty high test security protocol.”

While the district is in a holding pattern, there is a thought to maybe push testing toward the end of the testing period — Jan. 25 through May 14 – to give the plans time to fall into place. A question to that though is what the incoming Biden administration may do in relation to this testing.

At this point, the federal government is requiring the testing to go forward. Though a concern remains that if more students opt out of the testing then that would adversely affect the school.

“If the child doesn’t take the test, it counts as a zero and that counts against the school,” Superintendent David Krenz said.