MERC Publications

Document Type


Original Publication Date



Part of a series of policy and practice mini-briefs prepared by MERC's English Learner Research and Evaluation Team

Date of Submission

April 2021


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person instruction in Virginia public schools was suspended in March 2020 for the remainder of the school year. In 2020-2021, Virginia schools offered an evolving range of virtual, hybrid, concurrent, and face-to-face instruction. Despite the challenges of schooling during the pandemic, federal high-stakes testing mandates remained in place in 2020-2021, and all students identified as English learners (ELs) were still required to take the annual assessment of English language proficiency (ELP), the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs©. Since this test cannot be administered remotely, ELs participating in virtual schooling were expected to return to school buildings solely to take the test, despite serious concerns for safety and test validity being raised by several educational and civil rights organizations. This mini-brief explains these concerns, and offers recommendations for schools confronting the challenges of administering the test and interpreting test results during the pandemic.

Is Part Of

VCU MERC Publications

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Education Commons



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