Alaska schools get testing waiver

Alaska has gotten retroactive permission from the U.S. Department of Education for canceling standardized testing at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

The testing waiver comes with a caveat: The state must conduct a standardized test at the end of the present school year.

The Alaska Department of Education currently has no way to conduct a statewide standardized test. In a Friday letter from the commissioner’s office, the department said it will “soon announce its selection of a (testing) contractor, with the assessments to be administered in spring 2017.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, issued a statement applauding the federal decision.

“There is simply no reason our state should be penalized for failing to meet federal testing requirements this past school year due to the significant, widespread, and unexplained technical problems associated with the Alaska Measures of Progress test,” Murkowski said.

The state of Alaska spent years developing its own standardized system, but in March, construction workers severed a fiber-optic cable at the testing center in Kansas.

That left students unable to use the computer-based system in Alaska.

After tests resumed, the program repeatedly crashed and schools reported extensive errors. That led to the cancellation of the tests.

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