Public Education Department Seeks Waiver To Pause Spring Student Assessment


High-stakes test data would be invalid amid pandemic

The Public Education Department will request a waiver that would allow schools and districts to skip high-stakes student assessments again this spring, shifting instead to optional testing to benchmark academic achievement and identify any gaps in learning. 

The U.S. Department of Education waived the end-of-year assessment requirement for all 50 states last spring amid abrupt school closures and a shift to remote learning. New Mexico will join other states, including Michigan, New York, Oregon and Washington, in asking for a new waiver for spring 2021.

“As we approach the spring 2021 testing window, New Mexico finds itself in a situation parallel to spring 2020,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “We are requesting this waiver because test data would be invalid given the abbreviated time we’ve had for in-person learning and to prioritize student wellness in a way that high-stress, high-stakes testing does not.”

New Mexico proposes to allow schools and districts to opt-in to administer end-of-year standardized tests, creating a sample of data to identify where students stand academically after a year of non-traditional education. Results from optional testing would not be used to make important decisions about students, educators, schools, or districts, thus reducing the stakes — and stress — for students and educators. 

“We’ll ask districts to participate voluntarily in assessments so we’ll have a representative sample showing where we are in terms of student performance,” said Deputy Secretary Gwendolyn Perea Warniment.

In addition, New Mexico will continue offering the SAT for high school students as an equity issue because it is required with most college applications.