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Editorial: Standardized testing shouldn't be so closely tied to school funding

On April 30, 2014

Few legislative initiatives in recent years have been as divisive and widely condemned as the Common Core. Even Connecticut, a staunchly blue state, is now seeing opposition to the new education standards, and it's possible that Connecticut schools could be punished for their reluctance to give students more standardized tests.
According to a Connecticut Mirror article from this week, many families are trying to remove their children from state standardized testing. Widespread dislike of of the program and a movement against standardized tests has moved many parents to have their children opt out.
According to Gov. Malloy, however, that's not possible. He said on a public radio show last week that if too few student take the Common Core-aligned state test, Connecticut could lose the waiver exempting the state from No Child Left Behind mandates and not receive federal education funds.
Washington state lost its waiver and $40 million in federal education money last week. Connecticut receives $107.7 million that could be in jeopardy if too few students take the test.
There are a number of issues with this: standardized testing, something with many of its own problems, shouldn't be so closely tied to the funding that schools need.
Unfortunately, some standardized testing is a necessity in our education system- we do have to evaluate progress- but very few people support the testing in its current form. Numerous teachers, administrators, child psychologists and other education professionals think the emphasis on standardized testing has gone to far and it's harming students.
Furthermore, the personal decisions of families in regards to their children shouldn't have an affect on education funding. Federal law requires students to take these tests, and Malloy said that his hands are tied in the matter- even if he wanted to let students opt out, it would cost the state millions. Schools shouldn't be deprived of money they need to operate based on individual decisions.
Part of the reason for all this trouble is the fact that education is a bit of a mess right now. The Common Core is not fully implemented and states are all pushing against it to varying degrees. Most states have been given a waiver for the No Child Left Behind mandates because congress hasn't acted to reauthorize or repeal the law yet.
Regardless of the reason, education funding can't be tied to standardized test scores the way it is. Hopefully, lawmakers will implement a more sensible system in the future.

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