Some DeKalb County parents are upset with the county school district for scheduling mandatory testing on Jewish and Muslim holidays.
The DeKalb School District has slated the Cognitive Abilities Test and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills from Sept. 8-11 and Sept. 14-25, respectively. The two tests are mandatory for children in grades 1, 3, 5 and 7, and help with placement in gifted and special programs.
This year’s testing dates, however, fall over the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as well as the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha.
Richard Litner, a DeKalb parent and a member of the Facebook group Resolve ITBS Testing, said scheduling mandatory testing over these holidays pressures families to violate their religious tenets.
“My children are not going to go to school during the High Holidays, so they unfortunately will miss the exams and will have to make alternative arrangements,” Litner said. “But I’m very confident the county will do the right thing.”
Litner’s group has sent a letter to DeKalb Schools Superintendent Stephen Green and is working on an additional response from area rabbis. He says the district changed testing three years ago when testing was scheduled after Halloween, and he expects the same consideration in this situation.
In a statement from Green posted on school district Commissioner Stan Jester’s website, the superintendent said the district moved up testing to September in order to get score reports earlier and, therefore, move students into gifted programs quicker. He said the district has scheduled makeup days to accommodate students who have to miss testing for religious or other reasons.
The district did not return emails to WABE requesting comment.
Jester’s wife, Nancy, who sits on the Board of Commissioners, has also written an open letter to Green, asking DeKalb schools to consider moving the testing dates.