Smarter Balanced Assessments 25

Is Iowa moving to Smarter Balanced Assessments?

The above search term brought someone to the blog today. The answer is maybe, but Iowa has not yet adopted the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

Here is a recap of where Iowa stands with regard to Smarter Balanced Assessments:

Governor Branstad, State Board of Education President Rosie Hussey, and DE Director Jason Glass signed off on making Iowa an SBAC governing state in June 2011. The letter requesting the change in status updated the SBAC MOU originally signed by Governor Chet Culver, interim DE Director Kevin Fangman, and Rosie Hussey in June 2010. The MOU contains the following language with regard to the Smarter Balanced Assessments: “The purpose of [the SBAC MOU] is to . . . (h) Bind each State in the Consortium to every statement and assurance made in the application . . . ” and “Each State that is a member of the Consortium in 2014-2015 also agrees to the following: . . . Fully implement statewide the Consortium summative assessment in grades 3-8 and high school for both mathematics and English language arts no later than the 2014-2015 school year, . . . .”

However, 2012 brought SF 2284, Division II of which fixed the Iowa Assessments as the statewide assessments for Iowa.  The state board may submit recommendations for modifying the assessment, but legislative action will be required to adopt the Smarter Balanced Assessments.  [SF2284 is found in Chapter 1119 of the 2012 Acts and Joint Resolutions, which begins on page 434.  Division II of SF2284 is on page 435.]

2013 brought further changes with HF 215, Division V of which modified the assessment requirements as follows:  Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, districts will be required to administer assessments to all students enrolled in grades three through eleven.  The assessments shall be administered during the last quarter of the school year, must be aligned with the Iowa common core standards, must accurately describe student achievement and growth for accountability purposes, and must measure student progress toward college or career readiness.

HF 215 also directed the director of the DE to establish an assessment task force to review and make recommendations for a statewide assessment of student progress.  The task force recommendations are due by January 1, 2015. The assessment task force meeting dates, agendas, notes, and membership are available at the DE website. Meetings of the task force are open to the public.

This session, HF 2141, a bill that would have required the director of the DE to submit a request for Iowa to exit the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, failed to advance out of subcommittee.

Caffeinated Thoughts reports that Rep. Jorgensen (R-Woodbury), chair of the House Education Committee, indicated that the Legislature will address whether or not to adopt the Smarter Balanced Assessments next session, after the assessment task force has submitted recommendations. Of course, as long as the Iowa Legislature is in session, it would still be possible to take action on the issue.

Meanwhile, the DE has moved forward with participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment field tests. The DE requested a field test flexibility waiver, which was approved in part in February.  The waiver was approved on the condition that the DE will implement eight assurances, including ensuring notification of parents whose children attend schools that will be participating in the field tests and that “pending action by the Iowa legislature,” the DE will administer the new assessments to all students in the grades required to be tested during the 2014-15 school year.

After a one-week delay, the Smarter Balanced Assessment field test is scheduled to begin March 25th.

On Facebook, Iowans for Local Control has the following list of Iowa school districts participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment field tests. Note that the Iowa DE does not appear to have released an official list, and Iowans for Local Control would like to be notified of any errors or omissions.

  • Alden CSD
  • Anthon-Oto CSD
  • Atlantic CSD
  • Bellevue CSD
  • Bettendorf CSD
  • Danville CSD
  • Davis County CSD
  • Denison CSD
  • Dike-New Hartford CSD
  • Essex CSD
  • Gilmore City-Bradgate CSD
  • Hampton-Dumont CSD
  • IKM-Manning CSD
  • Iowa Falls CSD
  • Le Mars CSD
  • Linn-Mar CSD
  • Lone Tree CSD
  • Maple Valley CSD
  • Morning Sun CSD
  • Muscatine CSD
  • North Mahaska CSD
  • Schleswig CSD
  • Sioux City CSD
  • Southeast Polk CSD
  • Starmont CSD
  • Tipton CSD
  • Tri-County CSD
  • Wapello CSD
  • Waterloo CSD

So that’s where we stand. The executive branch appears to moving forward with implementing the Smarter Balanced Assessments, but the Iowa Assessments remain the statewide assessments for accountability purposes until the Iowa Legislature takes action to change that.