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Trump scraps standardized testing at public schools as coronavirus disrupts American education

President Trump announced Friday that standardized testing requirements at public K-12 schools will be suspended as a result of the worsening coronavirus outbreak that has shuttered schools in almost every state.

“With many schools closed due to the virus, the Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements — very importantly — for students in elementary through high school for the current year,” Trump said at a daily briefing of the coronavirus task force. “They’ve been through a lot, they’ve been going back and forth, school’s open, school’s not open, it’s been all standardized testing and, you know, it’s — we’re not going to be enforcing that, so I think you can let the people know.”

Standardized tests help determine the amount of money that school districts receive from the government. While districts are not legally required to administer the tests to students, opting out means they face the prospect of losing federal funds.

As of Thursday, 45 states had ordered the closing of public and private schools, affecting 52.6 million students, according to figures compiled by Education Week. The duration of the closures varies, but federal health officials have warned that shelter-in-place guidelines could last for months. Many high school districts have transitioned to online classes in an effort to avoid further disruption to grade advancement or graduation.

Trump, however, put a happy face on the decision to suspend standardized testings.

“I think probably a lot of the students would be extremely happy. Some probably not. The ones that work hard, probably not, but it’s one of those things,” he said.

A custodian disinfects a classroom in Brownsville, Texas. (Denise Cathey/Brownsville Herald via AP)

The College Board, which administers college PSAT and SAT tests as well as advanced placement exams, has canceled those tests due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“In response to the rapidly evolving situation around the coronavirus (COVID-19), College Board is canceling the May 2, 2020 SAT and SAT Subject Test administration,” the organization said in a statement posted to its website. “Makeup exams for the March 14 administration (scheduled for March 28) are also canceled.”

The College Board is looking into offering AP exams online.

“The AP Program is finalizing streamlined AP Exam options that would allow students to test at home, depending on the situation in May,” it said in a statement. “We’re working to give every AP student the opportunity to claim the college credit they’ve earned.”

While past delays in standardized testing from major events like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have resulted in lower standardized test results locally, a nationwide disruption is unprecedented. It also threatens every step along the nation’s educational pathway.

How colleges and universities will deal with the delay remains to be seen. Given that most colleges have already sent students home due to the spread of the coronavirus and have adopted online instruction, dormitory revenues have plummeted and students are seeking to be reimbursed.

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