Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday that federal law restricts students from opting out of taking standardized tests, and if the state were to give students that option, it would put the state at risk of losing millions of federal dollars.

“From a guy that grew up with dyslexia and had real physical as well as perceptual difficulties, I understand people’s anxiety about testing. I certainly had my own,” the Democratic governor said Monday on “Where We Live,” a public affairs radio show on WNPR.

“I’ve given my read of what the law is, and we must be compliant with the mandates of No Child Left Behind as it is currently implemented, and that requires all of the states to be engaged in some form of testing,” he said.

Malloy said he is concerned that if too few students take the Common Core-aligned standardized test, the U.S. Department of Education may rescind the state’s waiver to the punitive requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

While 42 states have received waivers, Malloy pointed to Washington state, which became the first state to lose its waiver last week as proof that the federal government will not hesitate to revoke waivers and limit what federal funding can be spent on.

“I read over the weekend that at least one state is about to be defunded to the extent of about $40 million for their lack of compliance… I certainly don’t want to see our state fall into that situation,” he said.

Connecticut districts received $107.7 million this school year in Title 1 grants from the federal government that could be targeted if the state loses its waiver, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Education said last month.

The State Department of Education reported in December that a “greater number of parents [are] desiring to remove their children from participation in the statewide testing program.”

In previous years only a handful of parents statewide sought an exemption from the state and federal requirements that every student be tested in math, reading and writing in Grades 3 through 8 and 10th grade. Science tests are administered in selected grades as well.

As the new standardized tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards come on line this year, some parents and anti-testing advocates have been urging parents to pull their children out of taking the test.

But Malloy said he has no choice but to require students to be tested.

“I didn’t adopt Common Core. My predecessor did. Like handling the deficit, I was also handed the problem of seeing this implemented. Some districts are far ahead of other districts. Some districts folded their arms and said we’ll wait and see,” he said.

While former Gov. M. Jodi Rell entered the state into an agreement with other states to implement Common Core, the Malloy administration signed an agreement in 2012 with the federal government to implement the new standards and tests in order to receive a federal waiver to the No Child Left Behind law.

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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