Religious and Cultural Considerations for Assessments
Considerations for assessment during religious and cultural observations
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is home to students, families, and staff from hundreds of cultures and dozens of religions, many of which have special days of observance throughout the year. A few of these days impacting a large portion of the FCPS community are recognized as Religious/Cultural Observance Days in the standard school year calendar. For other observance days that are not designated in the FCPS calendar, families and schools work together for students to successfully participate in schoolwork and activities.
What Can Families Expect Regarding Tests and Assessments on FCPS Religious/Cultural Observance Days?
School Board policy prohibits schools and teachers from giving tests, quizzes, or other assessments on a designated Religious/Cultural Observance Day. If a student is scheduled to take a required assessment on the day following a Religious/Cultural Observance Day, school staff must communicate the test schedule at least seven (7) calendar days in advance.
What Can Families Expect Regarding Tests and Assessments on Other Observance Days Not Recognized in the FCPS Calendar?
With the hundreds of cultures and dozens of religions represented in the FCPS community, it is certain that some observance days important to students and families are not included in the FCPS school year calendar. Sometimes, these additional observance days may coincide with scheduled tests for a student's grade level. In these cases, schools and families often need to work together to determine if schedule adjustments are needed and, if so, how best to meet students' needs, given testing guidelines and available school resources.
Examples of adjustments that may be appropriate in some cases include:
- Arranging an alternative or make-up testing date if the student will need to be out of school on the scheduled date;
- When an observance involves fasting, scheduling test sessions in the morning when energy levels are likely to be highest.
How Can Families Help School Staff Understand Discuss Test Assessment Considerations for Other Observances Not Included in the FCPS Calendar?
Parents and guardians are encouraged to:
- Review the division testing dates for required assessments at each student's current grade level;
- Contact school staff to let them know about any religious or cultural observance students will be observing this year that are within the division testing windows;
- As the testing window approaches, talk with school staff about the specific schedule planned for each student's tests (keep in mind schools may not have the full details until a few weeks before testing begins); and
- Share any concerns about each student's observance impacting test performance and work with school staff to determine the best option to address the student's needs.