“Our children are worth it.”

Mary Ellen Miller, member of the Iowa State Board of Education, keeps defending the decision to move forward with adopting the Smarter Balanced assessments by saying, “Our children are worth it.

I have not heard a single critic of the Smarter Balanced assessments in Iowa say that our children aren’t worth it. The issue isn’t the inherent worth of Iowa’s school children, the issue is whether the Smarter Balanced assessments are worth it, whatever “it” is. And “it” is whatever districts will need to cut from their budgets to pay for the additional costs of the Smarter Balanced assessments.

Heads up, ICCSD school board candidates. Here’s what Chief Academic Officer Becky Furlong had to say about how adoption of the Smarter Balanced assessments could affect the district:

However, she said the Smarter Balanced tests could have a major impact on ICCSD.

Furlong said the new exams cost more than the current Iowa Assessments, and that the district might struggle with a lack of bandwidth to administer them. She said students who aren’t familiar with online tests also might be at a disadvantage.

“There are some legitimate concerns,” she said.

Furlong said she hopes the Department of Education will provide adequate time, funding and professional development to districts to successfully implement the new tests.

Of course, the DE doesn’t appropriate money for schools, that’s up to the Iowa Legislature. And while Miller may be of the opinion that it would be “easy” for the Legislature to find the money, the 2015 legislative session suggests otherwise.


One thought on ““Our children are worth it.”

  1. Mary Starry

    I have concerns regarding moving from a paper based testing system to an online testing system, since some students may not have as much experience with computers as others. Plus it is very different to answer questions and submit answers on a computer to just reading and posting messages. Children are very computer literate in terms of working with apps they constantly use but that does not always transfer into correctly following specific instructions on the computer.

    Another concern with a computer test is they often do not allow the child to skip a tough question and then go back to it after they have completed the easier questions. Does this new system allow that?

    Finally, newer studies involving reading on paper versus on the computer are showing that we do not always interpret and understand materials in the same way moving between the two approaches. So students who do very well working on paper may not do as well with the same question presented on a computer screen. I know computers are great for data collection, but if the goal is to determine what the students actually know, we need to be assured that the computer based tests will record that with the same reliability.

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