Last fall, Marietta tested students on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills in grades two, four and seven. But board members said they didn't believe that was sufficient.
"What good is it getting nationally normed results just in three grades?" asked board member Jill Mutimer, who, along with other members such as Randy Weiner, convinced the board to fund the Iowa test for grades one through eight for an annual cost of $88,000.
"Parents need to see how their child performs on a national level and the ITBS is a nationally normed test that will provide that information," Weiner said.
Mutimer said Marietta used to administer the Iowa test in more grades, but pared back to save money. Dr. Donna Ryan, assistant superintendent for special services and assessment, said the state ended its funding of the ITBS in the 2009-10 school year due to funding.
Marietta students in grades three to eight are already tested on the state Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. But that doesn't tell parents how their students compete against students in other states, board members say.
"I ... would like to know how my children are doing on a nationally normed test in addition to the state test," Mutimer said.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes has been a longtime proponent of national tests. He has pointed out that while students' scores on the state CRCT are high, when the National Assessment of Educational Progress samples those same students, they score quite low. That's because the state sets the bar so low on its tests for political reasons, Barnes has said.
Marietta board members believe the Iowa test will also help students get a leg up on the common standards Georgia and most other states are rolling out over the next few years.
"I think we can kind of get ahead of the curve in measuring on how we're doing on a nationally normed test as the common core is coming out," Mutimer said.
In other business, the board unanimously voted to move Marietta Center for Advanced Academics Principal Karen Smits to West Side Elementary School, keeping her salary the same at $109,037. Smits replaces Jennifer Lawson, who resigned to take a job elsewhere.
"She wanted a new challenge. She's an excellent principal, and I think will do a fantastic job there, and we will seek a wonderfully qualified candidate to continue the great path that MCAA has been on with all of its state awards," Board Chairwoman Irene Berens said of Smits.
The board renewed, 6-1, Marietta High School Assistant Principal Ron Brookins' contract, keeping his salary the same at $107,632. Stuart Fleming voted against the renewal, but declined to explain why.