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NCLB Outrages

Schools Won't Get Flexibility in Standardized Tests

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut schools won't be exempt from a federal requirement to expand standardized testing, U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings told state officials Tuesday.

In a letter to Education Commissioner Betty Sternberg, Spellings said that the importance of testing students in grades three through eight cannot be underestimated.

"We must be able to identify strengths and weaknesses, and, for the sake of students, we cannot afford to do that infrequently," Spellings wrote. "You cannot remedy weaknesses you do not know about."

Sternberg asked Spellings to consider exempting the state from a requirement to test children in every grade. Connecticut students take tests in grades four, six and eight, but will have to expand testing to grades three, five and seven next school year to comply with the federal rule.

"Our tests are among the most demanding in the country," Sternberg wrote in January. "Adding tests in grades 3, 5 and 7 ... will tell us nothing that we do not already know about our students' achievement."

Spellings also said that Connecticut's achievement gap between poor and minority students and their wealthier, white peers is among the widest in the nation. Test results will help give educators more information about what students need to learn, Spellings said.

Members of the state Board of Education are scheduled to meet Wednesday with Ray Simon, an assistant secretary in the federal Department of Education, to discuss Connecticut's requests.

Sternberg has requested more flexibility in interpreting the federal law in several other areas, including the testing of special education students and non-English speaking children.

— Noreen Gillespie, Associated Press


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