New “Testing America’s Freedom” Podcast from NWEA Examines Equity in Education

Education leaders discuss the history of laws, policies, and practices that have resulted in systemic inequity within America’s education system and urgent solutions to help all students succeed

Portland, Ore. — Sept. 29, 2020 — NWEA, the not-for-profit educational assessment provider, announced today the launch of its new podcast, Testing America’s Freedom. Hosted by Dr. Aaliyah Samuel, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs & Partnerships at NWEA, the episodic series explores the role of race and assessment in American public education through thought-provoking interviews with current and future leaders in education.

Testing America’s Freedom delves deep into the lesser-known history of laws and policies that have perpetuated and exacerbated racial inequities within the education system. Samuel and her guests explore topics such as school funding, the importance of diversity in the education workforce, assessment purposes and design, and their link to modern-day systemic racism, discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by these urgent issues.

“The inequities within our public education system do not exist by accident, they are the result of carefully orchestrated policies that used tools like school funding, divestment and testing to perpetuate achievement and outcome gaps for students of color,” says Samuel. “Although the past may be grim, as educational leaders, we have the opportunity to use these same tools to reimagine systems of learning and teaching so we can construct a more equitable future. My hope is that this podcast can be a catalyst for our education and policy communities to think about how we can collectively move toward change at a time when education policy is evolving so rapidly.”

Guests of the podcast include Thomas Toch, Director of FutureEd; Dr. Lea Austin, Co-director of Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at The University of California Berkeley; Dr. Wayne D. Lewis Jr., Dean of the School of Education at Belmont University; Daniel Thatcher, J.D., Senior Fellow, Education Finance Policy, National Conference of State Legislatures; Jason Willis, Area Director for Strategic Resource Planning & Implementation, WestEd; and many others.

Testing America’s Freedom is available on all major podcast platforms, including Apple, Google, and Stitcher. To listen to all five episodes now and to learn more about the series, visit

  • Episode 1: Testing America’s freedom
  • Episode 2: School funding: The real challenge in achieving educational equity
  • Episode 3: What’s race got to do with It? Everything.
  • Episode 4: The missing summative: What does it mean for the future of assessment?
  • Episode 5: Paving the way for an equitable future: Words of wisdom from the next generation of leaders

To find out more about Testing America’s Freedom, visit

About NWEA

NWEA® is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators worldwide by creating assessment solutions that precisely measure growth and proficiency—and provide insights to help tailor instruction. Educators in more than 10,000 schools, districts, and education agencies in 141 countries rely on our flagship interim assessment, MAP® Growth™; our progress monitoring and skills mastery tool, MAP® Skills™; our reading fluency and comprehension assessment, MAP® Reading Fluency™; and our new assessment solution that combines growth and proficiency measurement. Visit to find out how NWEA can partner with you to help all kids learn.

Contact: Simona Beattie, Sr. Manager, Public Relations, or 971.361.9526.