Officials from the U.S. Department of Education have denied New York’s petition to create waivers for their state tests. The waivers were designed to accommodate students with disabilities as well as for students who are still learning English, according to Monica Disare in Chalkbeat. Despite the ruling, New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia explained that state education officials will meet with federal officials later this month in an effort to have them reverse their decision.
Disare explains that the U.S. Department of Education rejected two proposed waivers to the state’s annual standardized tests for students in grade 3 to 8. She notes that one of the waivers would have allowed some students with cognitive disabilities to take tests below their grade level, while the other would give students who recently arrived in the country and are still learning English additional time before their English scores are counted in a school rating’s rating.
The federal government also blocked the state’s plan which would have dealt with schools with high opt-out rates on the test, according to Disare. She explains how “New York officials had wanted to make sure that schools were not penalized if a large number of students sit out the state exams” and stated that “they created two accountability measures — one that counted boycotted exams against a school’s passing rate and another that did not — and allowed schools to use the higher of the two ratings.” The Department of Education rejected that formula, and instead insisted that the state treat boycotted exams as failures when judging the state’s annual progress.
Disare also notes that “federal reviewers could have forced the state to lower its graduation rate, but they appear to have decided against that drastic step.”
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