The board announced last week that it is canceling the fall session of the Idaho Standard Achievement Test for all grade levels during the next school year. The move will save the state roughly $500,000, according to board spokesperson Mark Browning.
"Obviously, it's a fiscal issue for us," he said. "We're being as prudent as we can."
Students will continue to take the ISAT test in the spring—a federal requirement under the No Child Left Behind Act.
The problems started last year when the board of education realized that no one had read the fine print on the contract with Northwest Education Associates, landing the state over budget by more than $1 million.
After canceling the spring 2008 tests for the two grade levels, education officials were still looking for ways to trim the fat.
While Browning said the board cut the tests for financial reasons, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna doesn't seem as sold on the usefulness of the fall tests.
"When you look at what we are getting from the fall ISAT right now, it does not justify the time and resources we are currently spending," Luna said in a written statement.
Luna is forwarding the idea of using the half-million in savings to reinstate the ninth-grade ISAT, and Browning said the proposal will be part of the annual budget request given to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in the fall.
The budget must be approved by the State Legislature, so the soonest ninth graders could be tested is the 2009-2010 school year.