The State Board of Education voted 4-3 Wednesday to again delay consideration of waiver requests from more than two-dozen school districts that want to be exempted from part of state testing.
The board itself kicked off the waiver requests in January with 4-3 approval of a resolution inviting districts to apply for waivers from the first part of PARCC testing in language arts and math.
Since then, the attorney general has formally ruled that neither the board nor the Department of Education can legally grant such waivers, and the tests in question are being given in every district.
Despite those facts, some board members argued Wednesday that keeping the waiver requests lying on the table has symbolic value. (In February the board first delayed action on waivers until this month.)
“While it is unlikely the waivers will be granted under the attorney general’s opinion, I think the process since we passed the resolution has been positive,” said Republican member Steve Durham of Colorado Springs. He proposed the original January resolution.
Keeping the waiver requests alive “continues to keep some pressure and interest in the testing issue on the education system,” Durham said.
Member Angelika Schroeder, a Boulder Democrat, countered by saying, “Those waivers didn’t change anything except create confusion. … I disagree that this is in any way helpful. It suggests that we can’t make up our minds.”
Chair Marcia Neal, a Grand Junction Republican, agreed, saying, “I think we’ve created confusion in the schools.”
Republicans Pam Mazanec and Deb Scheffel of Douglas County, along with Denver Democrat Val Flores, voted with Durham for the delay.
Neal, Schroeder and Arvada Democrat Jane Goff voted no.
If the board hadn’t voted for the delay, its procedural options would have been to deny the waivers or rescind the January resolution.
Most of the districts that have applied for waivers are small and rural, with the exception of Douglas County and Jefferson County.