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Federal Waiver Requested For Local 2013 CMT Assessment

In a letter shared with The Newtown Bee, Connecticut Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor asked U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to grant Newtown a waiver from having to asses students annually.

The request came while a waiver applied for by the Newtown school district to exempt the town from having students complete the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) this year, is still waiting to be passed or denied by the state Generable Assembly. In his letter to the secretary of education, Mr Pryor said the General Assembly is set to fulfill that waiver request one it is able to convene.

The Newtown Board of Education voted during a meeting on January 23 to apply for the waiver with the state. At the meeting, Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said most of the administration in the school district did not support such a waiver, as the CMT provides data used to asses students and evaluate teachers. 

At the January 23 meeting, BOE Chair Debbie Leidlein said the Newtown Federation of Teachers requested the waiver to reduce the stress level in the district.

By the Board of Education’s February 5 meeting, Dr Robinson reported the school district was still waiting for news regarding the waiver, and supplies for the CMT were already arriving in the district. If the waiver passes, those supplies will be returned to the state, according to the superintendent.

In his letter, Mr Pryor wrote, “Given the extraordinary circumstances of this terrible tragedy, the State Department of Education has worked with Governor Malloy’s office and the leadership of the General Assembly to prepare legislation in order to fulfill this waiver request. The General Assembly’s leadership has indicated they will take up this legislation as soon as the General Assembly is able to convene.

“Given the support of the Governor and, as we understand from communications to date, support from legislative leadership, I respectfully ask that you grant Newtown a waiver from the provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act requiring states to assess all students annually,” wrote the state commissioner of education.

Mr Pryor ended his letter by thanking Mr Duncan for the support he showed Newtown “during these difficult times.”

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