WILMINGTON -- In a dramatic reversal from his previous threats to enact Educator Accountability measures on his own, Delaware Governor Thomas R. Carper said he would support a one-year delay in the student testing program scheduled to take effect next June.
In a news conference on Friday, Nov. 12, 1999, Gov. Carper said last month's town meetings and numerous conversations with parents, teachers, and legislators since the General Assembly deferred a vote on Teacher Accountability two weeks ago have convinced him that the state is not ready to implement the Student Accountability measures already approved.
Approval of such a delay would likely require a vote of both houses of the General Assembly and the governor's signature.
Delaware public school students were to begin official standards testing next June to determine if they should be promoted to the next grade or graduate from high school. In unofficial tests last spring, 1/3 of Delaware students failed to meet those standards, with more than half of Sussex County students testing below standards.
"Despite the availability of four years of preparation, we have too many students in too many school districts who still may not be prepared to do their best on these tests next spring," said Gov. Carper. "For that reason, and others, I do not believe we should move forward with student accountability next June."
Specifically, Gov. Carper said he would support delaying for one year the mandatory consequences of the student testing program and delaying the implementation of the graduation requirements from 2002 to 2004.
He said the additional time would allow the Department of Education and school districts to develop additional criteria for promotion besides a single test, a sticking point with many parents, teachers and legislators.
"Parents and teachers have both been clear that they do not believe that one test, a single indicator, will always be sufficient if we are to be fair to kids," said Gov. Carper.
The governor added that he would support the development of additional tests to measure student performance and student portfolios that could be used by teachers to determine if students meet the state's academic standards.
Gov. Carper also addressed the controversial issue of testing Special Education students who would likely not meet the state's testing standards. He said he would support "off-grade assessment" of those students, meaning they could take the test designed for the grade level they were at.
He also said he doesn't believe the certificate of attendance that has been proposed for special education students and others who do not meet the minimum standards would not adequately recognize what those students have accomplished in school but that for colleges and employers, the state needs to differentiate the diplomas of students who meet Delaware's standards and those who do not.
The governor maintained, however, that education reform efforts must move forward and that administrators, teachers, parents and students must "redouble" their efforts to raise the academic performance of Delaware students.
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