ST. LOUIS — Students who haven't been in school for over a year will now take standardized tests in person. It's a requirement handed down by the U.S. Department of Education.
Some school district leaders think the tests should be waived like they were last year. One Parkway mom feels the same. She's kept her kids home all this time for health reasons.
Yolanda Bow feels like her hands are tied with the mandated standardized tests this year.
“Not 100% comfortable, no never,” she said.
Bow has Lupus, and because of it, has chosen to keep her kids home to virtual learn in the Parkway School District. When asked if she could bring her 4th-grader in to complete the exams, she nervously agreed.
“This test is just one more thing, one more challenge that we have to face. Sometimes you have to do things, even when you don't want to, even when it doesn't make sense, you know,” explained Bow.
It doesn't make sense for many of the school district leaders we spoke to, from Parkway to Collinsville.
"Coming into a school building to take a test like a standardized test is not necessarily the best experience for the first experience for students this school year, but that's certainly what we're being asked to do,” said Carter Snow, Parkway School’s coordinator of student assessment.
“Now we finally get kids back in a regular setting and now were going to take five days as an example and put a computer and assessment in front of them, when we could be instruction and social interaction and that's what we should be doing,” said Collinsville Superintendent Brad Skertich.
Whether they like it or not, the tests for 3rd through 8th-graders and high schoolers end of course assessments must be given this year. It’s a mandate from the U.S. Department of Education.
States now have the task of making sure districts test as many students as possible.
"This information is so critical right now," explained Tracy Hinds with Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Hinds said the state simply can't go another year without some sort of data to show where funding and resources are needed.
"We have access to additional funding, and we want to be sure that we are providing the right supports," she explained.
As for Bow, she said she's using this as a teaching opportunity for herself and her son.
“This is a school year and he's in school right now. If you want to be in school, you're going to do whatever the school is asking for you to do right now,” explained Bow.
The Department of Education has made changes to this year’s exams to ease the burden. Tests will be 25% shorter, the window to test is open longer and scores won't be used for accreditation.