For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 17, 2020

ISBE delays start of 2021 spring assessment window to March 15

​ACCESS test for English Learners pushed from possible start date of Jan. 4 to no sooner than March 15

​SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today that it has delayed the opening of the 2021 spring assessment window to at least March 15, in response to requests from school districts and stakeholders. The delayed start provides the greatest possible flexibility for schools. 

The original administration window for the ACCESS test, which measures the proficiency of English Learners in reading, writing, speaking and listening, would have allowed schools to begin testing as early as Jan. 4. ISBE's action today ensures no student will take a federally required assessment, including ACCESS, until March 15 at the earliest. 

“Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the timing of the federally required assessments," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “I made the commitment at our Board meeting yesterday to delay the start of assessments as much as possible, and I am happy to keep that promise today. We will continue to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that always puts our students first, is collaborative and grounded in equity, and that recognizes the diverse needs of our 852 school districts." 

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to administer assessments in specific subjects and grade levels. Failing to administer spring assessments without an approved waiver from the federal government would risk billions of dollars in federal funding for the state's highest-need students. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has not issued any waiver opportunities for spring 2021 assessments as of today. 

ISBE's action today gives schools the maximum possible time and flexibility to prepare for the assessment administration or to receive new direction from the ED. ISBE released guidance in October to assist schools in preparing to administer the federally required spring assessments safely in-person. School districts typically have a 6-10 week administration window or multiple possible dates per assessment to choose from as they prepare to administer assessments locally. 

The federally required assessments in Illinois are the Illinois Assessment of Readiness for students in grades 3-8; the SAT for students in grade 11; the Illinois Science Assessment for students in grades 5, 8, and 11; the ACCESS for English Learners; and the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment for the 1 percent of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. 

Please click here for the Spanish version.​