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Educator calls for in-person standardized testing to be put on hold

Tennessee policymakers are pushing forward with in-person standardized testing for students this semester.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Tennessee policymakers are pushing forward with in-person standardized testing for students this semester.

They're citing the need to know where students stand after a year of learning that's been unlike any other. 

It's a decision some educators can't get behind.

Spanish Version: Educadores hacen llamado a pausar las pruebas estandarizadas en persona

"This needs to be a year of grace and forgiveness and put that test on the shelf and save it for another day," said Tanya Coats with Knox County Education Association.

This school year has come with challenges and changes. She's asking lawmakers to understand that and understand what students are going through. 

"When parents are stressed, students are coming to school stressed," said Coats. "This is not a normal year and we shouldn't be doing a normal test."

The tests are used to determine where a student stands, how they've grown and if they're succeeding or falling behind.

Governor Bill Lee supports the move and officials believe it can be done safely. 

But Coats said it's not the year to overstress or penalize students. 

"It's a scary time for parents to know if their child doesn't pass third grade they're going to have to repeat it or go to summer school."

She said over a third of Knox County students are still participating in virtual learning. 

State officials would like to see students return in person after spring break, but Coats said that's wishful thinking. 

"If we want to be fair and equitable, we need to be fair and equitable for all students."

Instead, Coats would like to see a continued focus on mental and emotional health helping students through the tough times.

"When we have racial and social justice things going on, suicide rates are at all time highs...we need to make sure we are not putting undue stress on students that's not necessary," said Coats. 

The Biden administration said tests must be given this year, but schools won't be held accountable for the results.

Some states are looking into waiving testing.