Manchester school cash is at stake with Common Core test
Gatsas said he was recently told by the state education commissioner that not adopting the assessment test, called Smarter Balanced, could imperil not only $21 million in federal funding, but the $56 million in state aid to the district, which makes up about a third of its budget.
Gatsas expressed his alarm at the Board of School Committee meeting on Monday, and several board members shared his concern. Federally-mandated testing has been a sore point for Gatsas, who has sought a testing exemption for the districts’s English language learners, who struggle on the NECAP exam and bring down the city’s average scores. Federal authorities have refused to grant the waiver and threatened to withhold about $20 million it sends to the district if the testing isn’t administered to all students.
Leather said he wasn’t sure if state aid to districts could be withheld if they do not adopt the new assessment test. “We’d have to take look at that. I don’t have the answer to that today,” he said.
The Common Core standards have drawn critics across the country who question the soundness and rigor of the system and have charged that it’s an attempt by the federal government to impose uniform and inflexible standards across the country.
The standards were defended at Monday’s board meeting by David Ryan, the district’s new assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Ryan was previously the principal of Nashua High School North, which has implemented Common Core, he said.
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