Rep. Ilhan Omar signed on to a Democrat-led effort to press President Joe Biden’s Education chief to temporarily ditch standardized testing of students amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter prods Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “provide all states with waivers” for the federal testing during the current academic year.
“We should be prioritizing the students’ academic, and emotional well-being, not arbitrary standardized testing goals,” Omar noted on Twitter in response to a post by Minnesota state Sen. Erin Murphy who also called for testing to be halted for the year.
“Proud to join [Rep. Jamaal Bowman] in an effort to provide students with standardized testing waivers for this academic year. #SuspendTheTests,” Omar noted further.
Yes! We should be prioritizing the students’ academic, and emotional well-being, not arbitrary standardized testing goals.
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) March 10, 2021
In addition to Omar, the letter was signed by Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.), and Mark Takano (D-Calif.), as well as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Fox News reported.
In their letter, the lawmakers suggested that poverty is the “most reliable” indicator for success in the classroom and that the pandemic’s overall impact on education “has exacerbated the preexisting divide” in the U.S. “between those with and without accumulated wealth.”
“Marginalized communities have faced the brunt of this pandemic and likely have suffered the most academically, as well,” they wrote.
The lawmakers went on to say that a “growing body of evidence” suggests federal standardized testing “more reliably measures socioeconomic status than student achievement, especially in extreme circumstances such as these.”
Citing “learning loss” because of internet connectivity problems, the lawmakers called on the education secretary to suspend testing for the year. They went on to say that “black and brown students have suffered from the lowest engagement rate” during the pandemic and that just “60 percent of black students and 70 percent of Latino students” have regularly attended classes.
“Taken together, it becomes clear that this pandemic has exacerbated many of the existing inequities in our public education system,” they wrote. “As such, our response should not begin with reassessing the situation, but rather with providing the resources schools need to safely reopen and address the learning loss from last year.”
The group went on to argue that a continuation of standardized testing would only “compound the existing youth mental crisis” that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Therefore, the high stress nature of standardized tests would not only fail to provide unique information on the student populations most at risk,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote. “But they would also fail to subject all students to further psychological harm that will potentially have serious long-term consequences.
“With this in mind, we urge you to utilize the powers of your office to protect our children from the unnecessary burden of federally mandated standardized tests,” they added.
Omar becomes the latest left-wing Democrat to push back against standardized testing, which has taken place for centuries, Fox News noted.
Last week, Bowman drew criticism online after posting that he finds standardized testing “racist.”
In recent years, there has been a push by college and university administrators to ditch curriculum standards and admissions requirements such as testing over claims that they limit “diversity” on campus.
“These alterations typically hinge on the notion that students from underrepresented groups require extra help, or are less capable of achieving the same scores as their peers on standardized tests,” Campus Reform reported.
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