Newtown school district seeks standardized testing waiver

The Newtown, Conn., Board of Education voted to ask the federal government to exempt its public schools from taking some mandated standardized tests because of the trauma inflicted on  the community by the fatal shootings of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary last month.

The Board of Education voted 5-2 Wednesday night to seek a waiver for the Connecticut Mastery Tests, the state assessments that are given to students in grades 3 through 8 in the spring for school accountability purposes, according to NewsTimes.com. There are four elementary schools, one intermediate school with fifth and sixth grades, one middle school and one high school in the district. The waiver would not stop students in 10th grade from taking this spring the Connecticut Aptitude Performance Test, which is required for students to graduate.

Janet Robinson, the superintendent of the Newtown Public School District,  said she did not fully support the decision to seek a waiver because data collected from student scores on the assessments are important to principals dealing with curriculum and instruction issues, NewsTimes said.

Furthermore, teachers in Newtown are now evaluated in large part by their students’ standardized test scores — in fact, 45 percent of a teacher’s assessment is based on the scores. If the tests aren’t given this spring, Robinson was reported to have said, standardized tests might have to be given next fall, when school starts, to get the necessary data.

Robinson has had a rocky relationship with Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlein, who supports the decision to request a waiver. In fact, the school board voted last summer against extending Robinson’s contract, which is now set to expire in June 2014.

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · January 25, 2013