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Ore., Wash. Respond Differently To School Testing Options

Oregon and Washington are responding differently to the federal government’s offer of flexibility with standardized testing requirements.

Pete Springer/OPB/Creative Commons

States are trying out assessments this year connected to new national standards. That’s in addition to required state tests.

The feds now say they’ll allow students who are piloting the new tests to avoid the state tests.

Nathan Olson with Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction says his office will ask for federal permission to let individual schools decide the issue. Olson points out the policy may have risen out of a discussion between Washington state and federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“Our state superintendent had a discussion had with secretary of education Duncan and said, ‘If you’re going to field-test this, then that’s fine, but you’re going to be double-testing,’” Olson said. “Apparently, Mr. Duncan went back to Washington, D.C., and said, ‘That’s an interesting question - you’re right.’”

Oregon doesn’t want a waiver. State officials say about 20 percent of students will try out one of two pilot tests - but that the results of the current state tests are important for a number of reasons.

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