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Updated Dec 23, 2013 - 10:10 am

Officials in Arizona to seek delay in school ratings

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Education officials in Arizona plan to seek a one-year delay in their ratings of schools as the state transitions to a new student assessment test.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that the state's A-F grades for school districts and charter schools usually serve as an indicator of student achievement on the state's assessment exam, but the state is about to ditch that examination for a new test that will align with new standards.

The new test hasn't yet been chosen.

Education officials hope to find a lawmaker in the upcoming legislative session to sponsor a proposal that suspends the school ratings and a third-grade reading requirement.

If a bill is passed, the state would not issue new grades or enforce the reading requirement for the 2014-15 school year, and schools would retain their ratings from the previous year.

The new test, which officials expect to give in spring 2015, will present a challenge for officials who have to evaluate how students score on it, said Stacey Morley, director of policy development and government relations for the Department of Education.

Officials will need to assess the scores on the new test before revising the letter grades to correspond with the new standards. It usually takes two months to evaluate the scores on the current test and calculate the school grades. But that will likely expand by an extra two or three months after the new test is given for the first time, Morley said.

That's because officials will have to determine which scores will serve as the cutoff for passing the test, she said.

The process also would delay the release of reading scores for third-graders, who could be retained if they fail to achieve a strong-enough score on the assessment test.

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Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com

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