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Pay Up

It looks as though Missouri school districts will foot the bill for some state assessments next year. A budget shortfall in the Show Me State has prompted the legislature to cut funds for the Missouri Assessment Program from $12.8 million to $5.1 million in the coming fiscal year.

The state will continue to require and fully finance the mathematics and communications arts assessments. But the reductions mean that districts must pony up about $5.30 per student if they choose to administer the state's now- voluntary science and social studies tests in the 2002-03 school year.

Meanwhile, lawmakers completely cut out the 2-year-old health and physical education assessments.

According to Orlo Shoroyer, the state's deputy education commissioner, the new expense should not be a huge burden for districts. "For almost all districts to pick up the additional cost for one year would not be a budget buster," he said.

And because so many districts have given the tests in years past—the oldest test, in math, has been around since 1998—many administrators will opt to pay up, according to Scott Taveau, the president of the Missouri Association of School Administrators. "I think that we will see the majority of school districts step to the plate and say, 'Hey we want to continue giving the tests,'" he said.

Still, Mr. Taveau said, some districts that were looking for an excuse not to give the tests would opt out.

And not all of the administrators who are planning to pay for the tests are happy about it. "They'll send a strong message to their legislators to get back on track and fund this test," Mr. Taveau said. "[Administrators] are doing this for one year only."

Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, is committed to restoring the assessment-program funds in the future, said Mr. Shoroyer. But whether that happens, he added, "is going to depend on the economic picture for the state next year."

—Michelle Galley

Vol. 21, Issue 39, Page 15

Published in Print: June 5, 2002, as State Journal

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