Snohomish parents keep 550 students from test

SNOHOMISH — More than 550 Snohomish School District students did not take state exams in the past two weeks, a revolt staged by parents who question whether the tests are worth the money. The parents also hoped to get the attention of state lawmakers.

With so many kids bowing out of the tests, the school district could lose some control for another year in how it spends federal funds given to schools with a large percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches.

The district most likely won’t meet the federal requirement that at least 95 percent of students participate in the exams.

So far, the students who didn’t take the Measurement of Student Progress represent about 12 percent of the 4,501 students between third and eighth grade required to take the test in Snohomish.

Last year only 12 students missed the standardized tests.

The final tally could increase because students are scheduled to continue taking the tests until June 1.

On the flip side, the movement has gained attention from state legislators who have met with the group spearheading it, We Support Schools Snohomish.

The group is considering expansion of its boycott to other school districts to raise awareness among legislators that parents are concerned about the exams.

“We are not against testing. We want student assessment, but we want smarter, more effective and more cost-efficient testing,” member Michelle Purcell said. “We feel we have been heard.”

So far, the group has met with state Reps. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish; John McCoy, D-Tulalip; Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens; and Mike Sells, D- Everett.

The group hopes to expand the boycott to other school districts, including Marysville, Everett and even Vancouver and Lake Washington, Purcell said.

All students not taking the exams will earn a zero. Test scores won’t be known until August. Low scores mean schools and districts must be put on a track to improve.

The Snohomish School District is already mandated to improve, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The parent group decided on the boycott because of cuts to state education. The group believes that if cuts need to be made, they should be done in areas that do not affect the classroom.

The group believes the Measure of Student Progress is an example of unnecessary testing, because the results are made available only after the students have moved on to another grade. According to numbers provided by the state’s superintendent of public instruction, the state spends about $38.6 million on the test.

The cost per student starts at $30, but since students might take more than one test, depending on their grade level, the cost can reach up to $90.

Students who did not take the test were assigned separate classrooms during testing, district spokeswoman Kristin Foley said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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