Williams, Bush Send Bipartisan Letter to DOE Asking for Assessment Waiver

February 5, 2021

The Hon. Dr. Susan Bunting
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal St.
Dover, DE 19901

RE: U.S. Department of Education ESEA/ESSA assessment waiver request

Dear Secretary Bunting:

It has recently come to our attention that the U.S. Department of Education has been accepting applications from State Education Agencies to waive certain requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with respect to student assessments. It also has been reported that U.S. DOE sent correspondence to all state chief school officers in recent weeks advising the extension of the waiver application period beyond Feb. 1, and that several of your colleagues in other states have already availed themselves of this opportunity to request a standardized testing waiver for this school year.

We strongly urge you to request an ESEA/ESSA assessment waiver for the state of Delaware as soon as practicable and without delay.

As you well know, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on Delaware educators, administrators, school support personnel, students and their families. Although U.S. DOE may waive the testing requirement for accountability purposes, it is also our firm belief that the state should forego plans to implement the shortened Smarter Balanced Assessment as indicated by your department during the Jan. 26 meeting of the ESSA Advisory Committee. Any attempt to administer required standardized tests in the current school environment would create an extreme hardship for our school communities and jeopardize the fairness and equity of the testing structure itself. Even if our talented education professionals were able to create a testing plan that would comport with the health and welfare restrictions in place to control the spread of the virus, the resulting testing data would almost certainly be flawed for a variety of reasons.

We believe the time required for testing could be better spent by educators in continuing to provide instruction and screen students at the district and building level to inform summer intervention programs and prepare for instruction in the fall.

We know there is no guarantee that a request for a waiver would be granted, however we also know that U.S. DOE is more likely to facilitate waivers if a significant number of states make similar requests. If you wish to discuss this matter further, please don!t hesitate to contact us directly. Thank you for your kind attention.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Williams
State Representative, 19th District
Chair, House Education Committee

William Bush
State Representative, 29th District
House Education Committee

Peter C. Schwartzkopf
State Representative, 14th District
Speaker of the House

John L. Mitchell
State Representative, 13th District
House Majority Whip

Valerie Longhurst
State Representative, 15th District
House Majority Leader

Nnamdi Chukwuocha
State Representative, 1st District
Vice-Chair, House Education Committee

Debra Heffernan
State Representative, 6th District
House Education Committee

Sherae’a Moore
State Representative, 8th District
House Education Committee

Kevin S. Hensley
State Representative, 9th District
House Education Committee

Sean Matthews
State Representative, 10th District
House Education Committee

Michael Ramone
State Representative, 21st District
House Education Committee

Michael F. Smith
State Representative, 22nd District
House Education Committee

Edward S. Osienski
State Representative, 24th District
House Education Committee

John A. Kowalko
State Representative, 25th District
House Education Committee

Eric Morrison
State Representative, 27th District
House Education Committee

Sean M. Lynn
State Representative, 31st District
House Education Committee

Ruth Briggs King
State Representative, 37th District
House Education Committee

Laura V. Sturgeon
State Senator, 4th District
Chair, Senate Education Committee

S. Elizabeth Lockman
State Senator, 3rd District
Majority Whip
Vice-Chair, Senate Education Committee

David P. Sokola
State Senator, 8th District
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Senate Education Committee

Bryan Townsend
State Senator, 11th District
Majority Leader
Senate Education Committee

Sherry Dorsey Walker
State Representative, 3rd District

Gerald L. Brady
State Representative, 4th District

Kendra Johnson
State Representative, 5th District

Larry Lambert
State Representative, 7th District

Jeffrey N. Spiegelman
State Representative, 11th District

Krista Griffith
State Representative, 12th District

Franklin D. Cooke
State Representative, 16th District

Melissa Minor-Brown
State Representative, 17th District

David Bentz
State Representative, 18th District

Paul S. Baumbach
State Representative, 23rd District

Madinah Wilson-Anton
State Representative, 26th District

William J. Carson
State Representative, 28th District

Andria L. Bennett
State Representative, 32nd District

Lyndon D. Yearick
State Representative, 34th District

Ronald E. Gray
State Representative, 38th District

Daniel B. Short
State Representative, 39th District
House Minority Leader

Timothy D. Dukes
State Representative, 40th District
House Minority Whip

Sarah McBride
State Senator, 1st District

Kyle Evans Gay
State Senator, 5th District

Spiros Mantzavinos
State Senator, 7th District

John “Jack” Walsh
State Senator, 9th District

Stephanie L. Hansen
State Senator, 10th District

Nicole Poore
State Senator, 12th District

Bruce C. Ennis
State Senator, 14th District

Trey Paradee
State Senator, 17th District