The U.S. Department of Education’s announcement that it will give states the chance to suspend some or all of their current tests in mathematics and English/language arts for the 2013-14 school year could spark big changes in student testing nationally.

However it doesn’t allow state to skip tests altogether.

The Education Department’s offer is aimed at easing an assessment burden that looms this school year, as states face juggling their own tests with the field tests being designed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

The more astute of you may remember on June 18th, Arne Duncun sent a letter to the DOE here, stating that the DOE would consider flexibility during this school year.

Districts would not have to report results of the field tests, since they are still in development. But they would still have to report the results of their state tests, as well as participation rates in both the state and field tests.

Department officials confirmed that the flexibility could permit a state to go as far as substituting its own state tests for field tests in those two subjects, as long as the state met the department’s other testing and participation requirements.