Students in the Lawrence school district will be spared the trouble of taking the semi-annual state writing test this year.
District officials said Monday that they will take advantage of a decision last month by the Kansas State Board of Education to let districts opt out of administering the test this year.
“USD 497 will not be administering the state writing assessment as part of our efforts to move forward with the Kansas College and Career-Ready Standards (Common Core) adoption,” said Terry McEwen, the district’s director of assessments, in an email Monday.
Under the new Common Core standards, McEwen said, reading, writing, listening and speaking will all become integrated as part of the English and language arts curriculum. He said the Lawrence district will continue to assess students’ writing skills but will not use the state writing test.
Normally, schools in Kansas administer the writing test every other year in grades 5, 8 and 11, alternating with the history and government test. State officials say they have more flexibility on those tests because, unlike the reading, math and science tests, the writing and social studies tests are not required by federal law.
But the State Board of Education agreed in January to make the writing test optional this year, in large part because the writing test is aligned to old academic standards that are being phased out. The new Common Core standards will be fully implemented in Kansas classrooms next year.
Kansas is part of a group of states developing a new kind of test, called the Smarter Balanced Assessments, that will be aligned to the new Common Core standards. That test is expected to be administered in the 2014-15 school year, the next time Kansas students are scheduled to take a writing test.