District 65 offices at the JEH Education Center.

Despite a pandemic which has claimed 565,000 American lives and is far from finished, the federal and state governments are not budging on requiring standardized tests for school students.

In a memo to the community, Evanston/Skokie District 65 superintendent Devon Horton says, “We have been informed by the Illinois State Board of Education that there are no assessment waivers for school districts like in 2020.” Therefore, Horton says, “we have limited flexibility for these state required assessments and all schools must administer them at the required grade levels.”

One bit of flexibility districts do have is to give the tests in either the spring or the fall. Horton says the IAR test (English and math), ISA (science) and DLM (for students with significant cognitive disabilities) will be given this spring.

Horton says this will preserve instructional time in the fall and will help in “protecting space to focus on relationships and routines upon return. This will help to create locks of much needed uninterrupted instructional time.”

Only students attending in-person school in District 65’s hybrid system will take these spring exams. Horton says the assessments must be given in person. The district will not bring back students currently on remote education, due to health and safety reasons and parental choice of learning pathways, among other reasons.

ACCESS tests (for English language learners) will be moved to the fall. Horton says many bilingual students are currently on remote learning, and the ACCESS tests must be given in person, “ideally by an adult who is connected” to these particular students.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.