Wishful Thinking

There seems to be quite a bit of wishful thinking at work with regard to the Smarter Balanced assessments. That aiming for minimum technology requirements and hoping for the best is enough. That we won’t need to buy anything more than we already have. That the state will find the money to pay for it all plus 4% growth plus fully fund the teacher leadership system (no need to prioritize spending, we can have it all!). That somehow, we can pretend that it’s all benefits and no costs, and in any case, it’s worth it (whatever it ends up being).


The experience in other states is that the move to statewide online assessments is a massive (and expensive!) undertaking, with many opportunities for things–large and small–to go wrong, even with the best planning.

In the next post I plan to address assessment technology issues experienced by other states (followed by a post on time and costs to administer the assessments). You can answer for yourselves whether Iowa is engaging in the best planning for a move to statewide online assessments.

Of course I’m not immune to wishful thinking myself. Surely legislators, prudent minders of the state budget, won’t vote for schools to pay more for assessments when schools could pay less for an assessment that meets all the minimum legislative requirements and covers all the required subjects. That legislators surely won’t vote to pay more without knowing exactly how much more it will be now and in the future. That legislators won’t knowingly impose unfunded mandates on our schools. And that somehow this decision on statewide assessments will be about assessments and not political sausage-making.

*Inspired by Math with Bad Drawings. I think we can all agree that Education in Iowa should stay away from both analogies and bad drawings from now on.