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    Principal Response to State Testing Letter
    Posted on 03/14/2019

    Principal Response to State Testing Letter

    Dear Thurgood Marshall Elementary Community:

    As our school’s principal, I take seriously my commitment to make sure each student feels honored, academically supported, and connected to our school community. This includes recognition and support of our families' diverse faith practices and beliefs.

    This last week, content in an assessment letter I forwarded from the district office, caused unintentional harm to our Muslim families and students, specifically those observing Ramadan. This year, the Washington state-scheduled testing window overlaps with Ramadan.

    I want to apologize for not reading the district letter more closely before sharing it with families and for the hurt it has caused. While local districts can’t adjust the state’s testing period, schools and staff can make accommodations within the testing window. Our school staff, as they have in previous years, will work in partnership with families and students observing Ramadan to make accommodations for students who are fasting. It is not our place to ask families to forgo a critical aspect of this sacred holiday.

    I also think it is important I comment on the district’s intent versus impact. Seattle Public Schools' assessment team was aware of the testing window conflict with Ramadan. They worked with an internal team, including staff who observe Ramadan, to provide school-based guidance on how to best support students and families during this sacred, month-long holiday. This is part of ongoing efforts to be more proactive, responsive, and supportive of the faith practices represented in Seattle Public Schools. Centrally provided supports included guidelines and the sample parent letter you received last week.

    The team's intent was to maximize student success by providing school leaders guidance, not to ask families to accommodate testing and abandon a fundamental requirement of their faith. While this was the intention, this commitment was not communicated clearly. The team has since made revisions to the sample parent letter and will redistribute to school leaders.

    I want to thank everyone for reaching out and sharing your concerns with me. The Thurgood Marshall community is incredible. While this has been a very challenging situation, I have been so grateful to parents and staff that advocated for our students and called attention to the communication issues and misstep. I want to re-emphasize my commitment to ensuring Thurgood Marshall is a safe, welcoming, and supportive school for all students and families. If you have specific questions or continued concerns, please contact me directly at kjmay1@seattleschools.org.

    Sincerely,
    Principal May