Texas teacher quizzes students on church shooting article

Excerpt from an assignment given to Sweeny Junior High 8th graders.
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A Texas school district is under fire for a recent assignment some are saying is insensitive to the victims and families of the Sutherland Springs church mass shootings that took place Sunday.

The Sweeny Independent School District admitted that one of its teachers administered a quiz to her 8th-grade class using an article on the Sutherland Springs Church massacre. 

The test appears to have been created by a service called "Newsela" on November 6, just one day after the deadly shooting rocked the small community of Sutherland Springs.

KENS 5 learned of the test from a concerned aunt of a student at Sweeny Junior High School who submitted images of the test the student brought home.

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According to its website, Newsela, which partners with The Washington Post, "is an education website focused on building student reading comprehension by providing high-quality news articles and real-time assessments for students in grades 2–12."

The company says it uses stories that are "student-friendly" to promote the utilization of nonfiction reading as a tool for "learning in every subject."

KENS 5 was able to locate the article on Newsela's website using the search feature. At the bottom of the page, the company linked to other articles "you may also like," including the title "Mass shooting in Las Vegas claims lives of 59 people, 527 injured."

Sweeny Junior High Principal Michael Saul responded to a concerned citizen's inquiry into the assignment by stating the assignment adhered to education standards for Texas,

But in a separate statement obtained by KENS 5, the district offered an apology for the assignment:

On Thursday, November 10th, Sweeny Independent School District was made aware of an 8th grade English Language Arts lesson that involved students reading an article about the tragedy at Sutherland Springs.  While the purpose of the assignment was to use current events to support learning standards, we recognize that the timing was not appropriate. We sincerely apologize and will continue to encourage staff to be mindful when faced with emotional current events or sensitive topics. In Sweeny, we value family and community and our hearts go out to those impacted by this tragedy.  

Although it was not immediately clear when the assignment was given to the students, the woman who reported it to KENS 5 said she learned of the assignment on Wednesday night, just three days following the tragedy.

It was not clear whether the teacher was reprimanded for the assignment. Further details were not immediately available.