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Cade Brumley, Louisiana superintendent of education, visits Bains Elementary in St. Francisville to celebrate the strong school opening. Brumley asks teacher Leigh Hughes, center, to explain how Debbie Meyers, right, has had an impact on students’ lives.

Right up there with “quiz” as a four-letter word if you’re a school kid, “test” is just as much a guarantee of a reaction among teachers and policymakers in public education.

We need tests, now more than ever.

It’s good news that Louisiana public school students will resume their traditional standardized tests in math, science, English and social studies in the spring.

Those were canceled a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic, reasonably enough. But what has been the impact of the chaotic year since? While on the upside school children have not been devastated by the disease compared to their elders, there is no question that learning has suffered.

National studies have pointed this out, over and over again. The rule of thumb is that half a year of learning was lost.

That is a profound impact on a young child’s life. And without a commitment to tests, how do we know what the impact of coronavirus has been among Louisiana schoolchildren?

“We think it is really important that students test because we haven’t tested in two years,” Education Superintendent Cade Brumley said. “We need to know where our kids are, and that is important because it will drive instructional decisions and will also drive resource allocation decisions.”

With the backing of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, testing will resume, but there remains a drumbeat against high stakes for the tests.

Remember the four-letter word? For critics of the state’s long-term program of school accountability, it is never to be uttered precisely because tests have consequences.

Because of circumstances beyond the control of anyone, there has been that pause in testing, but there is more to it than that. Opponents of accountability in public education — they see testing as persecution of teachers and students — have won huge victories in the past year.

A 2020 state law bans the use of test results to help evaluate teachers and also prohibits officials from using scores to determine whether fourth- and eighth-graders move to the next grades. A second measure from the same session gives the state education board the authority to make allowances on school and district scores “as the board deems necessary and appropriate.”

The law also directs the board to seek a federal waiver to shelve letter grades this year if issuing the marks would be “detrimental” to the state.

Any honest assessment of Louisiana’s education status can be construed as “detrimental,” because so many of our children are behind — and were before the pandemic. The impact of the latter has got to be at least as significant, if not more so, than in other states, because so many of our children did not have reliable access to the internet for remote learning.

That’s why tests are essential, but we argue that it is also vital to see what schools and what systems responded more effectively to these undoubtedly challenging circumstances.

We need testing as much for accountability this year as we need it to assess individual students’ situations, and what interventions are needed.