Legislative Update 3/5: Assessments [updated]

We saw the House Education Committee preserve the assessment issue ahead of tomorrow’s first funnel deadline late last week with the passage of HSB 172 (now numbered HF 446) out of committee.

The Senate Education Committee has also preserved the assessment issue with the passage of SSB 1239 (I’ll update here with the new number when the assignment is posted Update: now number SF 429) out of committee yesterday.

I have heard that SSB 1239 is intended to be a shell bill, to be substantively amended later after legislators have had more time to decide what course of action to take on statewide assessment. However, unlike the HF 446 which merely expresses intent to address the issue this session, SSB 1239 contains language that adopts the Smarter Balanced assessments as the statewide assessment of the core academic indicators (mathematics, reading, and science) beginning in the 2016-17 school year. There is no provision for a science assessment (Smarter Balanced assessments assess English language arts and mathematics only).

There is also a statement that the state cost of compliance will be paid by a school district from state school foundation aid. This means that the assessment change would go into effect even if the state appropriates no new money to pay for them or the required technology infrastructure.

Interestingly, Data Recognition Corporation has three lobbyists registered as undecided on this bill. DRC submitted the Smarter Balanced assessments to the Assessment Task Force for consideration.

The Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa State Education Association, and the Rural School Advocates of Iowa, and ACT are also among those registered as undecided on this bill. The Iowa Association of School Boards, the Urban Education Network of Iowa, and School Administrators of Iowa are registered for this bill.