Update on Smarter Balanced Assessments in Iowa [updated]

In November 2015, the Iowa State Board of Education adopted rules [IAC 281–12.8(1)(h)] to adopt the Smarter Balanced assessments as the statewide assessments for Iowa beginning with the 2016-17 school year. In January 2016, the Administrative Rules Review Committee, through a unanimous vote, put a session delay on the Smarter Balanced assessments rules. A session delay means that the new rules did not go into effect in January, and instead, if the Legislature takes no action, will go into effect at the adjournment of the legislative session.

However, the Iowa Legislature appears to be taking action. Earlier this week, the Iowa Senate passed a one year delay of implementation of new statewide assessments in the education appropriations bill (SF2323 Division I, Section 6). [Note: Division I, Sections 12 and 13 of this bill contain provisions to delay the 3rd grade reading retention and summer school requirements one year, to May 1, 2018.]

This bill, SF2323, is now awaiting action in the Iowa House, where an amendment (H-8257) has been filed by Rep. Vander Linden (R-Mahaska) that, in addition to the one year delay, would nullify the rules adopted by the State Board of Education to adopt the Smarter Balanced assessments. Nullification, or the legislative veto, does not require the signature of the Governor.

I am guessing that prospects for a delay of implementation of the Smarter Balanced assessments are good. The Iowa Legislature has not appropriated funding for the Smarter Balanced assessments and none of the amendments currently on file change Division I, Section 6 of SF2323.

Prospects for passage of H-8257 nullifying the rules are less clear. However, it does appear that the Smarter Balanced assessments are lacking strong support in the Iowa Senate, where twenty-four Senators co-sponsored SF 2040, a bill that would have struck 256.7(21)(b)(2) and (3) from the Iowa Code, which are the subparagraphs that create additional requirements for the statewide assessments and the assessment task force.

Stay tuned.

Update: SF2323 was debated tonight. H-8257 was amended by H-8272. H-8272 would suspend the rules adopting the Smarter Balanced assessments [IAC 281–12.8(1)(h)] until July 1, 2017. The amendment to the amendment was adopted by voice vote, then the amendment, as amended, was adopted by a voice vote. SF2323 as amended the Iowa House tonight on a vote of 52-41 and is headed back to the Iowa Senate.

In case you missed it, the Assessment Task Force made recommendations for statewide science assessment in March. The full report (minus the introduction) can be found here and should be available on the Assessment Task Force page after the introduction has been added.

If you want more of the history of Smarter Balanced assessments in Iowa prior to November 2015, see The Long and Winding Road to the Smarter Balanced Assessments or other posts tagged SmarterBalanced on this blog.

Added: I’ve had a chance to review the Senate floor debate. The delay language was added by amendment S-5145 by Schoenjahn (D-Fayette) and passed on a 50-0 vote. A similar amendment, S-5144 by Bowman (D-Jackson), containing delay language plus rule nullification language, was withdrawn. SF2323 passed the Senate the first time on a 27-23 vote. The Senate adjourned today (Friday, April 22nd) without taking up SF2323 as amended and passed by the House.

 

 

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