The McPherson district received a two-year waiver of state testing for grades eight through 12.
In a letter from the U.S. Department of Education Monday, three districts received this notice, which waives certain statutory and regulatory requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, also known as No Child Left Behind. These districts were McPherson, Kansas City, Kan., and Clifton-Clyde.
These districts will be allowed to administer the ACT in high school and the ACT EXPLORE in grade eight in lieu of Kansas’ state assessments and use them for accountability decisions. This was approved through the 2013-2014 school year.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” Superintendent Randy Watson said. “We were happy we don’t have to ask again next year.”
The waiver did not include waivers for state testing for sixth and seventh graders, however.
“We were hopeful they would give us the sixth and seventh, but we weren’t surprised, since they had not done that last year,” Watson said.
The U.S. Department of Education said it did not see adequate proof the EXPLORE test could appropriately evaluate scores for the sixth and seventh grades.
“Our rationale was, well, why do you care if we want to use a test that’s harder,” he said. “We’re holding our sixth-graders and seventh-graders to an eighth-grade standard. We think that’s really high.”
Watson said the school would have to appeal this waiver in order to obtain a waiver for these grades. Watson said the district does not intend to do this.
The district, then, will use state tests for sixth- and seventh-graders this year, as they did last year.