President Donald Trump Friday gave states a green light to cancel state standardized tests in their schools, announcing at a White House briefing that the federal government will not enforce testing requirements due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

The tests are administered by the states, and few had moved to cancel them because they’re required under federal law.

Asked about standardized testing a few times over the course of the week, Gov. Phil Murphy had said no decisions had been made yet. At a press conference from Bergen County College, the site of New Jersey's first FEMA-backed mass drive-thru testing site Friday, he said he wasn't yet aware of the president's announcement, made just hours earlier.

Murphy has ordered all schools in the state closed, both public and private, until state health officials decide it’s safe enough to return that decision to local officials.

The testing period for the language arts, math and science New Jersey Student Learning Assessments, the name for the retooled PARCC tests, is scheduled to run between April 20 and May 8. Many schools had already announced they wouldn’t return until April 20 at the earliest, before the state’s order.

At the White House briefing, Trump said students are enduring a lot.

“With many schools closed due to the virus, the Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements, very importantly, for students in elementary through high school for the current year,” Trump said.

“They’ve been through a lot. They’ve been going back and forth, schools open, schools not open,” he said. “It’s been all standardized testing, and we’re not going to be enforcing that. So I think you can let the people know. I think probably a lot of the students will be extremely happy, some probably not. The ones that work hard, maybe not.”

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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