Steve Hinnefeld reports that Indiana’s education leadership is showing real leadership by seeking to cancel the state tests. The time to do so is now, because children and families are under stress, and schools will be closed for an undetermined number of weeks. The last thing children should have to worry about is being tested the minute they return, if school re-opens this spring.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick and the Indiana Department of Education are calling for standardized tests to be canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that is closing schools across the state. It’s not an easy call, but it’s the right one.

The department asked Friday for schools to be excused from state and federal requirements for standardized assessments for the 2019-20 school year. The requests go to Gov. Eric Holcomb and to the U.S. Department of Education.

The department also said it would postpone the third-grade reading exam IREAD-3, scheduled to start next week, and suspend 10th-grade ISTEP testing. ILEARN exams for grades 3-8 will be delayed if not canceled.

Under normal circumstances, I’d argue the assessments provide useful information for schools, parents and policymakers. But these aren’t normal times. Schools are closing for at least two or three weeks to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The disruption may be more serious than we realize.

“With the pressure our schools are already facing navigating the COVID-19 outbreak, the last thing our schools need is the undue burden of preparing and administering statewide assessments,” department spokesman Adam Baker said.

Actually, the tests are useless even in the best of times, because they have no diagnostic value. They are administered in the spring, and the results come back months later, with no guidance about the needs of individual students. This is akin to going to the doctor and being told that he will send you your test results in a few months, and the results will rank you compared to other patients but will not prescribe a course of treatment.

The state tests should be canceled in every state.

Children and families are under enough stress without having the tests hanging over their heads like the Sword of Damocles.

No one knows when school will re-open. Day by day, new closures are announced. It is only a matter of time until schooling is shut down, along with all other social functions in this country. We live in frightening times. Let’s face them with common sense and reason. And above all, protect the children from unnecessary stress and harm.