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Montana’s Request To Pause Student Standardized Testing Denied

The federal government has denied Montana’s request to pause standardized testing for public school students for the 2020-2021 year due to challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent this week, a U.S. Department of Education official wrote that Montana hadn’t shown how waiving federal testing standards would boost student achievement.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen requested the waiver in February, writing the pandemic would make testing difficult in some schools and subsequently produce flawed data.

The move was supported by state Republican elected leaders, the Montana American Indian Caucus and Montana Federation of Public Employees.

In a statement following the rejection, Artzen wrote “statewide mandated testing from the federal government misses the mark of putting our Montana students first.”

A news release from OPI says the state will adapt by offering student medical exemptions and a shortened version of the statewide test, while extending testing windows.

No student will have to physically attend school to take the statewide test, according to the release.

Kevin Trevellyan is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America statehouse reporter.