SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico education officials have clarified plans to seek a partial waiver from federal testing requirements as many students remain in remote or hybrid learning programs.

State Education Secretary Ryan Stewart affirmed last week that the New Mexico Public Education Department has not canceled spring end-of-year assessments.

“We have a request before the U.S. Department of Education to waive a requirement that 95% of New Mexico students participate in these assessments,” he said. "Instead, we have asked to test a representative sample of students, which would provide us with the information educators, families and communities need to gauge academic progress.”

The recent clarification followed a statement made in January in which the department said it would request a waiver to allow schools and districts to skip high-stakes student assessments again this spring, shifting instead to optional testing. Following requests by The Associated Press, the Public Education Department on Thursday released a letter it sent to the Department of Education that included specifics of its waiver request.

Instead of the traditional non-random survey of nearly all students, the Public Education Department wants to get a snapshot of student achievement by taking a sample of at least 1% of students.

“While we will make every effort to assemble a strong sample population, we think it would be challenging to test even a non-random 50% of the students,” Stewart wrote in the letter.

He explained that the state will invite all families and schools to participate in the English language arts, math and science assessments, as well as the English language proficiency assessments, as long as such assessments are administered under standardized testing conditions.


Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter.