(The Center Square) – All of the distance learning that students across the state of Wisconsin are working on during the coronavirus shutdown may amount to little more than busy work. 

The Wisconsin Department of of Public Instruction (DPI) on Tuesday said there is no requirement or direction from the state as to how teachers should grade the work students are performing at home for the next two weeks or more. 

“Local districts will work with their teachers on final grades,” Chris Bucher, a communications specialist with DPI, told The Center Square. “It is a local decision as to grading practices. We’re asking districts to do whatever they can to support student learning and the continuity of learning in this unprecedented situation.”

Gov. Tony Evers last week closed schools across the state for at least two weeks because of the coronavirus. Some school districts are sending students assignments online. Others districts are treating the closure as an extra-long spring break. 

DPI is clear that final grades for local schools will be impacted by the shutdown. 

“The DPI is aggressively pursuing a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education as it relates to mandated assessments. The DPI will work with the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Evers around suspending state testing requirements this spring due to the unprecedented circumstances,” the department said in a statement to local schools. “Discussions will continue around the potential impact these policy changes have with regard to the DPI’s annual Accountability Report Cards.”

State standardized tests are one of the key measuring sticks for public schools in the state. Those tests show college readiness, proficiency in English Language Arts, math, science, and social studies. Test results are the building block of a local schools ranking. 

That is why it is important to have answers about the tests for local schools.

“It’s increasingly clear the department will not be able to complete testing this year, which will impact report cards,” Bucher said. “We are having ongoing discussions with the Legislature and the governor’s office in relation to that.”

Elementary schools and junior highs in Wisconsin were supposed to offer the Forward Exam, their version of the standardized test, beginning next week. 

High schools across the state offered the ACT, their version of the state’s standardized test, earlier this month. Make-up tests and testing for students with special needs was on the calendar for the rest of the month. 

No one is sure when those students will be able to take their exam. 

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.