US Dept. of Education approves waiver for attendance, testing requirements amid COVID-19 pandemic

Governor John Bel Edwards announced Louisiana's first presumptive positive case of coronavirus...
Governor John Bel Edwards announced Louisiana's first presumptive positive case of coronavirus during his Legislative Session address on March 9.(WAFB)
Updated: Mar. 20, 2020 at 6:56 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed an update to his Public Health Emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 outbreak, which waives some education requirements on Thursday, March 19. The waiver was approved by the U.S. Department of Education Friday, March 20.

This means Louisiana will not require standardized testing for the 2019-20 school year. The state will also exclude testing data from performance measures for the current school year.

“Our actions today provide turnkey flexibilities for state and local leaders to focus on the immediate needs of their students and educators without worrying about federal repercussions,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a news release preceding approval of Louisiana’s request. “I’ve spoken with many local education leaders in the past days, and I’m inspired by their efforts to help their students continue to learn and grow. We’re going to continue to provide every flexibility possible to help make that as simple as possible.”

“Louisiana for many years has been an advocate for strong assessment and accountability systems. Our commitment to these valuable systems remains unchanged,” said Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux. “However, the health and well-being of our state’s most vulnerable populations must be our first priority in the coming months. We greatly appreciate the U.S. Department of Education’s expedient review and approval of our request.”

Click here to keep up with the next steps.

Education changes in the proclamation apply to the 2019-20 school year and address suspensions to testing administration, school and district accountability, teacher evaluation, student attendance, teacher work days, and charter school application and enrollment. Some of these suspensions will be effective only if the United States Department of Education grants a waiver of the relevant provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act at the request of BESE.

“The education of our students is extremely important, and I want to thank everyone who has worked so diligently and quickly to adopt distance learning practices – especially our educators and school administrators,” Gov. Edwards said. “The plan is still to open school later this year, but our request is to waive the LEAP testing for students in our state.”

Click here to read the proclamation update.

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