Because so many students are learning remotely or attending schools that are limiting visitors during the pandemic, nationwide tests for fourth and eighth graders will be delayed until 2022. The math and reading tests had been scheduled for January 2021, per US News and World Report. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called "the nation's report card," usually is conducted every two years. Administering this round, during a pandemic, would cost tens of millions of dollars, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. "I was obviously concerned about sending outsiders into schools and possibly increasing the risk of COVID transmission," Commissioner James Woodworth said. The tests are federally required, and US Education Secratary Betsy DeVos asked Congress this week to remove the mandate for now, the Washington Post reports.
Education groups supported the decision, and a member of Congress called the delay a "moral imperative," per Reuters. The tests, which have been given since 1990, measure the progress of children of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds living in urban, suburban and rural communities. The round of exams "would have shed light on the significant learning loss following the school closures last spring and the widespread failure to reopen schools this fall," DeVos wrote to Congress. She wants states to conduct their own assessments before this school year ends. Woodworth said those tests could "serve as a bridge" until the national tests resume in 2022. (Read more education stories.)