Word has come down to Newtown all the way from Washington, D.C., by way of Hartford: Newtown's students don't have to take the Connecticut Mastery Test this year.
On Wednesday, the State Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to waive the requirement for Newtown's elementary and middle schoolers. (The test is administered in grades 3 through 8.) Later in the day, the measure hit the General Assembly. Both the House and Senate voted unanimously in favor.
"We have all the components in place, so we are officially done with the CMT testing," Board of Education chair Debbie Leidlein told Patch. "Which, I think, will be a huge relief to the teachers. I know it was when we said we were applying for it."
Leidlein said the move would allow educators to focus on making up lessons lost due to the Dec. 14 shooting, with the extra stress and burden of a schoolwide test lifted.
"We've had parents, teachers and administrators all letting us know is something they felt was important, that it would benefit our district as a whole to focus our attention on healing and instruction time that was lost [due to the shooting], as opposed to preparing for the CMTS."
, originally favored by the teacher's union. Those still in favor of the standardized test said it would provide useful data, but some worried about the effects on students and a possible dip in scores from students still recovering from the incident.
"If we do give it, we'll get results that prove we never should have given it," said board member John Vouros at the time.
The measure brought action from U.S. Secretary of State Arne Duncan. On Tuesday, March 5, acting in response to a request from Connecticut Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, Duncan's office granted Newtown a one-year waiver of the federal requirements relating to the standardized test.
"Under the extraordinary circumstances of this terrible tragedy, the district identified this waiver as a specific way we could provide relief during the academic year,” said Pryor. “We are grateful for the assistance and cooperation of all parties involved for fulfilling this request from the Newtown community."