Questioning the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is the assessment for Common Core and is funded by a $160M grant from the US Department of Education.  Although Common Core has been adopted by the State, SBAC has not.  Sweetwater School District #1 has volunteered 3rd & 4th graders attending Walnut Elementary School to participate April 7th-25th.  Sweetwater School District #2 volunteered Harrison (3rd & 4th grade) April 28th – May 16th, Jackson (4th grade) April 7th – 25th, and McKinnon Elementary schools to participate in a field test of SBAC this spring. These voluntary “test of the tests” are in addition to the other required assessments our children take, such as the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS), Student Assessment of Writing Skills (SAWS), Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), DIBELS, DAZE and AIMSWEB.

It puts this valuable learning time toward a for-profit company on a test that we may never see again. The legislature refused to approve funds for SBAC in their interim committee meetings this fall due to tremendous grassroots opposition.

The Field Test is a “test of the test” and will result in some questions being revised or dropped, and students will not receive scores. This test will require approximately ten 45-minute testing sessions, approximately 8 hours, which translates into multiple days of teachers administering unapproved experimental field tests to our children instead of teaching subject matter to them.  Teachers want, need, and deserve time to do their jobs well, not just administer tests – especially experimental ones.

I’m not aware of any parental consent asking if our children could be used for an experimental field test.

Parents across our country are choosing to exercise their parental rights and refuse assessments.  Brianna Davis, mother of Green River students said, “I chose to opt my kids out of PAWS and SAWS because I would rather they spend the hours learning.  I also do not agree with the fact that the test scores are how school funding is determined.”

Recently Lincoln County School District #2 in Star Valley chose to back out of the SBAC Field Test, when initially EVERY school in their district had signed on.  When LCSD#2 found out that the field test was approximately 8 hours long (broken down into 45 minute segments) and that SBAC was not approved by the legislature, and that even if it were approved it wasn’t going to be implemented for two years, they decided not to waste their students’ time on more testing.  LCSD#2, along with Campbell County #1 and Park County #6, chose to prevent their students from being the guinea pigs used to determine if an unapproved test was a good or not.  Will this same step be taken to protect our students in Sweetwater County and allow academics and teaching to take precedence over practicing a trial test?

There are several reasons to assert your parental rights and Opt-Out.

1) Protect student data that will eventually be put into a national database (SLDS).  This is NOT the same information that has always been gathered on our children.

2) Protect kids from undue stress.

3) Allow students to do additional learning rather than spending HOURS testing.

4) Send a message that parents have the control and know what’s best for their child.

5) Allow teachers to use their professional judgment to gage where that student is academically and not rely on or pigeon-hole a child with numbers.

As a practical matter, teachers teach to the test.  Tests are what teachers and children are measured against so it only makes sense for teachers to do so.  SBAC is a federally controlled test.  Therefore the federal government through SBAC controls what our teachers teach and by extension controls what our children learn.  In essence we are voluntarily embracing the test that seals our fate as to the federal control of the teachers and the education of our children in SW#2.  I believe both deserve so much more.

For information on Opting Out please visit WyomingCitizensOpposingCommonCore.com.

Christy Hooley

Green River

Educator, Mother, Concerned Citizen

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