Manchester request to opt out of Common Core-aligned testing nixed
The decision, relayed in a letter to Superintendent Debra Livingston, is a blow for the school district’s administration and Mayor Ted Gatsas, who has maintained that the commissioner had publicly assured him that a waiver was possible.
The understanding that Manchester would not be compelled to take the test contributed to the decision last fall to pursue Manchester Academic Standards, intended as an alternative to Common Core, the education benchmarks that have generated controversy around the country.
“Both state and federal law compel Manchester to participate in the statewide assessments, and we are not aware of the U.S. Department of Education providing a waiver to any state or individual district in the country to opt out of a formal assessment,” Education Commissioner Virginia Barry wrote in the letter.
“We’re going to go forward and continue to work for a waiver,” he said. “I think it’s sad the DOE doesn’t understand us and doesn’t want to work with us. Maybe the state needs to look at Common Core again and withdraw like other states.”
Gatsas has previously fought standardized testing mandates for the district that don’t take into account some of the unique challenges it faces, in particular its large population of English-learning students.
Ward 8 school board member Erika Connors, the chairman of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, said she was “not surprised” by the commissioner’s decision not to grant a waiver for the test.
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