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Alaska faces no penalties after canceling standardized testing

December 2nd, 2016 | Alaska Dispatch News Print this article   Email this article  

The U.S. Department of Education has granted Alaska a waiver from its standardized testing requirements for the 2015-16 school year, according to an announcement last week from the state Department of Education and Early Development.

Alaska had canceled its statewide standardized test in April 2016, only a few days into the testing window, amid major technical problems, including the severing of a fiber optic cable at the University of Kansas, where Alaska's testing provider was located. The accidental cutting of the cable by construction workers on March 29 shut down internet service at the university and interrupted testing in Alaska. When testing resumed two days later, the system crashed — twice, according to the state Department of Education.

Susan McCauley, Alaska's interim education commissioner at the time, canceled testing altogether on April 1. The state asked the federal government for a retroactive waiver from two federal requirements: that states annually measure student achievement in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, and that achievement data be reported.

Alaska's education department said last week that the U.S. Department of Education waived both requirements for 2015-16 on the condition that Alaska administer a standardized test during the current school year.


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