April 07, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.VA. – The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has approved the West Virginia Department of Education’s (WVDE) waiver from accountability, school identification and reporting requirements as part of the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The WVDE was notified today of the approval, which will allow educators to focus on academic achievement and recovery.

When COVID-19 caused schools to move to remote learning last year, the school system was required to pivot from daily in-person instruction and engagement to support students’ needs remotely. Educators, as well as professional and service personnel, combined their collective efforts and energy to ensure students were fed and that learning continued in the face of extreme challenges. Pandemic interruptions to learning ranged from family support challenges to statewide inconsistencies with access to broadband and technology. As a result, the state is facing academic losses that schools will continue to address for months, if not for years to come.

The accountability waiver will allow the school system to better gauge the level of student loss without penalizing schools and educators that are working diligently to recover from the pandemic, even while the pandemic continues.

“We have to establish a benchmark, and moving forward, this waiver will allow us to do that,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “We know that too many of our children are experiencing profound academic, developmental and social-emotional deficits, and we are committed to determining what these needs are and addressing them as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

In addition to student performance, the WVDE will include publicly available information on chronic absenteeism and access to technology devices and high-speed internet as part of its reporting.

“Many educators reached out to me about assessment and wanted to have access to the information testing provides. This waiver is an important tool for us to use to support students and teachers,” said Superintendent Burch.

“We know there is work to do, and the assessment will give us a starting point,” said West Virginia Board of Education President Miller Hall. “There is no instructional manual on how to navigate through a pandemic, and I am proud of what our teachers, service personnel and administrators are doing to support our children.”

Counties will administer the General Summative Assessment (GSA) between March 29 and May 28, 2021, and the SAT School Day in West Virginia is April 13, 2021.

For more information, contact Christy Day at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or Christy.Day@k12.wv.us.

For information about COVID-19, please visit www.coronavirus.wv.gov or wvde.us/COVID19.

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