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Dougco joins the testing waiver parade

The Douglas County School Districts has filed a “just in case” request for a waiver from statewide testing with the Department of Education.

The Dougco application surfaced after Attorney General Cynthia Coffman issued a formal opinion this week concluding neither the State Board of Education nor the department has authority to grant testing waivers (see story).

In a Wednesday letter to education Commissioner Robert Hammond, Dougco lawyer Robert Ross noted the opinion and wrote, “We understand that there will now be legal (and likely legislative) issues to address for you and/or the State Board in order to proceed with such waivers.” Still, Ross wrote, the district wanted the education department to know of its desire for a waiver, should circumstances ever change.

The resolution passed unanimously by the Dougco board sounded a similar conditional note.

The Douglas County board has been a strong advocate of giving districts more flexibility in testing and standards.

Dougco is among 15 districts that have applied for testing waivers. The only other large school system that has done so is Jefferson County. Those two districts combined enroll 153,249 of the state’s 889,006 students.

Most of the districts that have asked for exemption from the first portion of this spring’s CMAS/PARCC language arts and math tests are smaller and rural. Two districts have asked for five-year testing time-outs.

The applicants are Buffalo, Byers, Dougco, Elizabeth, Hayden, Jeffco, Julesburg, Kit Carson, Montrose, Steamboat Springs, Weld RE-9 (Ault), Weld RE-10J (Briggsdale), Weldon, Wiggins and Wiley. Kit Carson, with 108 students, is the smallest of the group.

The State Board is scheduled to discuss the attorney general’s ruling and the waiver applications Wednesday morning during its regular monthly meeting.

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