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State testing not going anywhere

Local superintendents say cutting tests could save thousands, but at the cost of accountability

Posted: February 11, 2009 12:38 a.m.
Updated: February 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

While other states consider skipping some testing to overcome financial hurdles, local superintendents don't think dropping state mandated testing is a good idea.

"I think we do need to be accountable. That's our mission and it's independent of funding," said Judy Fish, superintendent of Saugus Union School District, adding that discussion of putting off required testing has not been discussed at Saugus Union.

South Carolina school districts could furlough teachers, skip some testing and increase class sizes under recent legislation.

The South Carolina measure advanced to the full House Ways and Means Committee would give districts temporary freedom from some state mandates, this school year and next.

West Ranch Assistant Principal Debra Warren said state education leaders might consider holding off on mandated testing.

"This money savings can then be used instead for our district's educational programs," she said. "The district doesn't have the power to hold off testing. It must get permission from the state."

In California, state testing determines what schools are named California Distinguished Schools and Blue Ribbon Schools, many of which are in the Santa Clarita Valley, said Marc Winger, Newhall School District superintendent.

"I think accountability is incredibly important," he said.

At William S. Hart Union High School District, state testing does take up time, but the test results are required for federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

"The chances of it going away are just about nil," said Pat Willett, William S. Hart Union High School District spokeswoman.

While many will argue there is too much required testing for students, districts need it to demonstrate that teachers are teaching to the standards and students are progressing, said Robert Nolet, Sulphur Springs School District superintendent.

Savings to the Sulphur Springs School District would hit the tens of thousands, which isn't a whole lot when district officials might slash millions from annual budgets.

"It isn't all that much money in terms of cost savings. If we eliminated state testing, it's probably for this district: $25,000," Nolet said.

Testing typically takes about seven to 10 days within a three-week window, Nolet said.

"It's not a huge impact on the instructional day," he said.

The movement to put off state testing most likely stems from the state budget crisis.

"People are feeling highly frustrated," Nolet said.

For Nolet, the focus of all the testing should be re-evaluated.

"Bottom line, testing should be used for the purposes of bettering your instruction," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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