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A Note on New York's Testing Waiver

We need to clarify a bit of information about the testing waiver that New York state won from the U.S. Department of Education the other day.

You might recall that New York obtained permission to allow middle school students taking Algebra 1 and geometry to take only the high school Regents tests for those courses, and skip the regular state math tests for their grades. Before this waiver, such students had to take both tests.

The state applied to the federal department for a waiver from this kind of double testing, but it wasn't—as we told you—part of the department's new "double-testing" waiver program.

A department spokeswoman explained that the Empire State's application fell under a longstanding section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act known as section 9401, under which states may request waivers from specific requirements of that law, which later came to be known as No Child Left Behind.

The new "double-testing" waiver program is aimed at a different kind of double testing: the kind that will arise this spring when many states field-test the common-core assessments built by PARCC or Smarter Balanced. Duncan allowed states to apply for waivers that let them avoid giving both the field tests and their regular state assessments to students (under certain conditions). Fifteen states applied for that kind of flexibility, but only one so far—Montana—has won it.


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