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Alaska Legislature Passes Bill to Suspend Standardized Testing

Alaska Independent Gov. Bill Walker is contemplating whether to sign legislation passed by state lawmakers that would suspend all statewide standardized testing in the Last Frontier until 2020. The bill was passed in early May.  

That's a potentially dicey move. If a state does not administer annual statewide exams in math and English/language arts for students in grades 3-8 and once in high school, it risks losing millions of dollars in federal aid—those tests, along with less-frequent science tests, are required under the Every Student Succeeds Act.  

Alaska has had several technical problems with its homemade testing system known as "Alaska Measures of Progress" (AMP) test over the last several years. Last year's scores were delivered late and inaccurate. This spring, technical glitches forced the department to abruptly end the administering of the test. 

The state department of education is in the process of asking the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver for the 2015-16 school year. 

Earlier this year, Superintendent Mike Hanley resigned after spending more than three years attempting to expand online testing to the mostly rural state, though he said.

Legislatures who support the bill, which has passed both the senate and the house and is sitting on the Gov. Walker's desk, argue that the federal government has inappropriately forced standardized testing on the state, according to local media reports. 

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