on the SBAC

Iowa may be ditching the Iowa Assessment. Since our state has implemented the Common Core, the Iowa Assessment (formerly the Iowa Test of Basic Skills) in its current form can no longer be used. Therefore, a task force was put in place by the legislature to consider the implementation of a new Common Core aligned test. Unfortunately, the task force determined that an out of state entity, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, was better qualified to create a test for Iowans than our own University of Iowa, and will recommend that choice to our legislators in January. We need to be concerned about this for the following reasons:

Costs:

  • Hard Costs: The current Iowa Assessment is $3.50 per student per year. A new Common Core aligned Iowa Assessment is expected to be around $15 per student per year. The SBAC assessment is estimated to be $27.30 per student per year. That equates to over an $11 million annual cost increase to local property taxpayers, with most of the money going to an out of state entity
  • Soft Costs: The Common Core Assessment is an online-only assessment. It will require a significant increase in both technology (computer equipment, software and maintenance) as well as internet bandwidth in all school districts just to accommodate that many students taking these tests.  Local property taxpayers will pick up this additional annual cost increase too, which will vary from district to district.

Control:

  • The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s governing board is based at the University of California, and its fiscal agent is the State of Washington’s Superintendent’s office. It is funded primarily by the federal government via the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. No Iowa educators or legislators participated in the development of this test, nor will they be able to review, approve or make changes to it in order align with Iowa standards.
  • This assessment will remove both local control and state control. It will drive local standards, and ultimately curriculum, to align with what is important to people out of state, rather than what is important to Iowans.
  • It will only test those portions of Iowa Core that are the same as Common Core; no additional Iowa local or state standards will be tested.
  • Iowa teachers will be held accountable to test results from an assessment Iowans did not create, based on standards Iowa legislators did not approve

Legality:

  • Due to U.S. Department of Education funds being used to create the test, the SBAC assessment violates federal laws prohibiting any federal involvement in the creating or directing of a national curriculum or a nationwide test (General Education Provisions Act, Department of Education Organization Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act)
  • Since this test is online, and gathers personal info on our children, it violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that prohibits participation by children under the age of 13 without written parental consent
  • This Consortium violates the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3), which prohibits interstate compacts without the consent of Congress. (there is a pending lawsuit in Missouri on this)

Privacy/Data Mining

  • Parents, teachers and taxpayers are not allowed to review the content of this new test in order to a) confirm that student multiple-choice and written answers won’t require the disclosure of personal information on the student or the student’s family (a violation of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment), b) confirm that the answers can be graded correctly and objectively, and c) confirm that content is appropriate, unbiased and non-political
  • The Consortium has an agreement with the federal government to share all personal student data, including potential psychological or social data that may be disclosed on their test question answers

We need to protect our students, our teachers, our pocketbooks and local control. We don’t want this test in Iowa. Let our Iowa legislators know your thoughts.

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