education secretary

U.S. Education Secretary Talks to NBC 5 About STAAR Tests and Pandemic Concerns

Cardona says there's frustration with standardized testing across the country

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Not even 65 days on the job and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has already spent a lot of time looking at Texas and the funding issues we have faced specifically federal dollars school leaders asked for but were held up in Austin.

"Making sure the funds going to education and not to other expenses we made that very clear with the intent, to have a national conversation for this money have to go to students and students in the greatest need," said Cardona. "These funds should be aimed at providing additional educators, social learning support, summer experiences, not to mention safe  school environments with good ventilation."

An educator with a background as a teacher, principal, and state education leader in Connecticut, Cardona says there's a conversation we're having in Texas that he's hearing across the country, a frustration with standardized testing.

"Sensible assessment is something I think is critically important. We're in the middle of a pandemic and testing in a pandemic, it does no good," said Cardona.  "But at the end of the day, we have to know the impact of this pandemic so we have to find a good balance. This year we need to get a good conversation going, how should we be assessing student outcomes."

He went on to talk about finding ways to test, inside the regular school day.

"What I've seen works well is a formative curriculum embedded in the curriculum where the students don't even know they're being assessed," he said.

His main focus remains the pandemic, significant levels of learning loss and figuring out a national plan to help students dig out.

"There are groups of students that are underperforming because they are underserved," Cardona said. "We have to do better, with the rescue plan, we have to make sure we're opening schools creatively and not go back to what it was March 2020. We have to do better."

Cardona is also tasked with looking at the legality of forgiving student loan debt.  Democrats are pushing President Biden to do it with executive action. Cardona is looking into all the legal ramifications of that to help guide the president on his next move. 

"I'm excited for the potential of our country," said Cardona.

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