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Coronavirus update: U.S. Department of Education announces broad flexibility for state testing waivers; student loan payments suspended

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos this morning announced that the millions of students nationwide impacted by school closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019–20 school year. The department said it will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing crisis. Gov. Gavin Newsom has already made clear that California will pursue such a waiver. "Students need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn. Teachers need to be able to focus on remote learning and other adaptations. Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time,” DeVos said.

Additionally on Friday, President Donald Trump announced DeVos would allow the nation's more than 42 million federal student loan borrowers to suspend their monthly student loan payment without penalty for the next 60 days.

The testing waiver announcement aligns with Gov. Newsom’s leadership on the issue and his March 18 executive order to waive, pending federal approval, this year’s statewide testing for the state’s 6.2 million public school students. “This is an unprecedented time, and our main focus is on supporting the mental and socioemotional health of students, while continuing to provide educational opportunities such as distance learning,” Gov. Newsom said.

A March 13 letter from the Education Coalition, of which CSBA is a part, to state policymakers and leaders called on the state to consider suspending testing this academic year.

CSBA will provide more information to members on the testing waiver details as it becomes available.

Stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 news and resources on CSBA’s dedicated webpage.