Chase Eskelsen M.Ed., Owner, Fersken Education LLC

Chase Eskelsen M.Ed. is an educator of more than 15 years with experience in digital education ranging from full-time online school administration to launching hybrid schools as the COO of an education nonprofit.  In between the full-time online schools and the hybrid schools, he worked in academic policy and government affairs, effectively fighting for good student-centered accountability and against bad education legislation. After seeing the benefit of a digital educational backbone bringing the very best of digital learning and partnering that with the very best of an in-person experience, he decided to launch his own educational firm to support new, innovative school options as they launch hybrid programs.  He is also very involved in parent advocacy, where he believes that parents know their kids better than any policymaker or politician ever will and because of that, parents should have the right to enroll their kids in the best school for their family.  He also hosts the FerskenED Edupreneur Mastermind, where he supports education entrepreneurship for new business owners in their first three years.


The transition to virtual learning over the last 20 years has reshaped the educational landscape, presenting both opportunities and obstacles for families accustomed to traditional brick-and-mortar district schools. Among the most significant challenges faced by virtual learners are the state-required assessments. These assessments mandate that virtual families depart from their usual “normal instructional settings” of which most are their home environments to participate in state-required testing at venues typically designed for adults, such as hotel ballrooms, conference centers, or convention centers.

For students accustomed to the familiarity of their home environments, this sudden shift to an unfamiliar setting can be disorienting and stressful. Unlike their peers in traditional classrooms, virtual learners must adapt to new surroundings and navigate interactions with unfamiliar peers and teachers. This disruption to their routine can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, and performance pressure, often impacting their test performance.

Moreover, the logistical hurdles associated with attending these assessments can further exacerbate the challenges for virtual families. Transportation logistics, scheduling conflicts, and concerns about safety protocols add layers of complexity and stress to an already demanding process.

One parent from Louisiana expressed the following experience, “Day two of state testing: woke up at 6 am to beat traffic, but ended up stuck for over an hour… Sitting in the car with one child to ensure they get their [school] work done, while other child test[s], avoiding the chaos of crossing the GNO bridge multiple times.  Left with no other options…”. The untold story for many of these parents is they have to take time off work, drive to a location (sometimes up to two hours away), and completely upend their life for a day (or days, depending on how many kids they have and how many grade levels they span).

The implications of these challenges extend beyond individual students to affect the broader educational ecosystem. Staff members responsible for administering assessments are often required to be present in person, diverting their attention away from online teaching. Consequently, students, even those not participating in assessments, may experience disruptions in their learning experience due to the absence of their regular teachers.  In many cases, these full-time online schools serve students in grades K-12 meaning that even a kid who is an 8th grader may lose their teacher’s live instruction when students are testing in grades K-7 and End of Course (EOC) high school assessments.  Many traditional educators and parents alike don’t realize the sheer manpower required to facility in-person assessments in an online setting.

In light of these challenges, it is imperative for legislators to take action to address the needs of virtual learners. Several states, such as Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Kansas, have already passed legislation allowing for remote testing in some form, offering a viable solution to the issues faced by virtual families. By approving similar measures, legislators can ensure appropriate access to assessments for all students, regardless of their learning environment.

In conclusion, the challenges posed by state-required assessments for virtual learners underscore the need for legislative action. By approving remote testing measures, legislators can alleviate the burdens faced by virtual families and promote equity in education. It is time for policymakers to recognize the evolving nature of education and take proactive steps to support students in adapting to these changes.

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