The U. S. Department of Education has approved the state's request to shelve standardized tests and other accountability measures because of the coronavirus.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has done the same but noted that final approval was up to federal officials, and that came Friday.

Public schools are closed until April 13 and those closures may be extended as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

"Our actions today provide turnkey flexibilities for state and local leaders to focus on the immediate needs of their students and educators without worrying about federal repercussions," wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a news release preceding approval of Louisiana's request. "I've spoken with many local education leaders in the past days, and I'm inspired by their efforts to help their students continue to learn and grow. We're going to continue to provide every flexibility possible to help make that as simple as possible."

The test results are the key part of annual public school letter grades, which shed light on how students and school districts are faring.

Federal approval of any waivers is required as part of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

"Louisiana for many years has been an advocate for strong assessment and accountability systems," Acting State Superintendent of Education Beth Scioneaux said in a statement.

"Our commitment to these valuable systems remains unchanged. However, the health and well-being of our state's most vulnerable populations must be our first priority in the coming months. We greatly appreciate the U.S. Department of Education's expedient review and approval of our request."


Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.