How Deep Is Support for SBAC in Iowa?

Last week we saw the DE emphasize the organizations supporting the proposed (now adopted) rule to adopt Smarter Balanced assessments as the accountability assessments for Iowa.

In many cases, individuals spoke or wrote on their own behalf. In many other cases, individuals spoke or wrote on behalf of an organization. Those organizations formally expressing support for the adoption of this rule include the following: The School Administrators of Iowa; the Iowa Association of School Boards; the Urban Education Network of Iowa; the Rural School Advocates of Iowa; Reaching Higher Iowa; the Cedar Rapids Community School District; and the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. The only organization expressing opposition to adoption during the public comment period was the Iowa City Community School District. (Emphasis added.)

The word is that around the same time the State Board of Education was adopting the rules to adopt the Smarter Balanced Assessments, an effort to pass a resolution, at the Iowa Association of School Boards annual convention, to support the Smarter Balanced assessments by name failed.

Here’s how the assessment piece of the IASB 2016 Legislative Resolution turned out:


Supports continued progress in the development of rigorous content standards and benchmarks that reflect the real-world knowledge and skills students need to graduate from high school prepared for college or to enter the workforce, including the following state actions:

  • Provide and fund technical assistance to help school districts fully implement the Iowa Core Content Standards which define what students should know and be able to do in math, science, English language arts, social studies, and 21st Century skills in areas such as financial and technological literacy.
  • Adopt high-quality summative and formative assessments, aligned to the skills students should know and be able to do to succeed globally and locally.
  • Support research based professional development that provides educators with training, support and time to work together so that they can successfully teach a rigorous curriculum to all students. Ensure that curriculum decisions about how to teach remain in the hands of local schools and teachers.
  • Include and fund all the components of successful standards systems: assessments aligned to high expectations, improved and aligned instruction and quality professional development.

IASB supports development of model content standards, recommended assessments and professional development supports in additional content areas but opposes expanding accountability, reporting and accreditation requirements in these areas.

State-level leaders of various organizations are clearly on board with Smarter Balanced assessments, but how many of their members are also on board? Does it matter for the short- or long-term prospects for SBAC in Iowa?

Stay tuned as the Smarter Balanced assessments are expected to be on the agenda for discussion at the December 8th meeting of the ICCSD school board.

Other Assessment Links

From the Quad-City Times interview with Linda Upmeyer, Speaker of the House for the 2016 legislative session:

The revenue increase appears to be relatively similar to last year’s. So we’ve got new money. We’ve got about $173 million new dollars. We do have some built-in things that will consume that. So we’re going to have to look at the budget and be very thoughtful about funding priorities. And we will do that. … But the principles that we’ve used for five years, that will go entirely unchanged because we think it served the state really well, that we have made sure that we don’t spend more than we take in, we don’t use one-time money for ongoing expenditures, and we don’t intentionally underfund things just to avoid having to pay for them. We’ve avoided, I believe, those roller-coaster peaks and valleys that we ran into previously when we had the economic boom and then kind of a more flat land and then a boom again. We’ve avoided the cuts that came with that. And I think that is really positive for all the public budgets in the state that we’ve been able to continue funding those exactly as we’ve promised. And that’s our goal, to keep moving forward being able to fund our priorities, fund the priorities of Iowans, and do it in a very stable fashion so that we don’t have to endure those devastating cuts that we saw in the past. I think we have an opportunity actually to really focus this year on a few things. One of the things the caucus will want to do early is take care of the education budget and get that passed, get the SSA over to the Senate. And we will do that as quickly as possible at the highest responsible number that we can come up with within those dollars.

No word yet on an SSA number, but remember that, like last year, $50 million of the revenue increase will go toward the funding of the third year of Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation System, for a total of $150 million committed to the program, and, thus, not available for funding SSA increases or new assessment costs.

From EdWeek:

From the NY Times: Massachusetts’s Rejection of Common Core Test Signals Shift in U.S.