February 28, 2021

DPI Applies for Federal Student Testing Flexibilities

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) will not provide a waiver for federal assessments and will require all states to publish the results, including disaggregated data for all subgroups of students. However, the federal department is indicating it will be open to waivers of federal accountability provisions, which the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is pursuing.

The DPI has already applied for the following:

  • a waiver from the 95 percent testing threshold for accountability purposes
  • a waiver from the requirement to test all English learners for language proficiency
  • an addendum to Wisconsin’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act plan and an associated waiver related to identification of schools for comprehensive support and improvement, targeted support and improvement, and additional targeted support and improvement; long term goals and selected accountability indicators; and 95 percent test participation

The DPI has committed to applying for any additional flexibility that is made available, as well.

Along with the waiver requests, Wisconsin has implemented measures reducing test time and extending the test window. The Forward Exam administration was reduced by 70-80 minutes and the DPI has extended assessment windows for ACCESS for ELLs, Forward Exam, DLM, and Aspire. Further, ACT with writing will be available in an in-person, online format (in addition to the paper and pencil this year), to provide 15 additional days of assessment opportunities. The DPI had discussed remote testing with the state’s testing vendors, but this will not be possible.

The DPI has provided districts various resources for administering assessments this school year amid the pandemic, including a document titled “Strategies and Considerations for In-Person Assessment During a Pandemic,” which provides considerations for district and school leaders to plan and safely administer assessments this spring. This information should be used as a starting point and adjusted to fit each assessment and each school’s unique student population and needs.