South Dakota Children Being Used to Write SBAC Assessments

With the announcement from the Sioux Falls Catholic School system that they are withdrawing from the SBAC Assessments, I learned that South Dakota children are being used to help write the SBAC assessment.  From the SFCS announcement:

• The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a field test where students will be exposed to thousands of test items in an effort to assist the consortium in choosing the best test items for the actual test which will not be ready until next spring.  Therefore, no two students will see the same questions, and no data or results will be available for schools.

Upon further research, this is exactly right. South Dakota is governing member of SBAC. We are also a member of the SBAC Work Goup  that is charged with Item Development and Performance Tasks. According to this video produced by  the South Dakota Department of Education, there are 30,000 questions. We will not receive results from the 2014 assessments. There are no results from this Spring’s assessment. Our children are not taking an assessment where we will see if they are meeting the standards of the Common Core, as required by SDCL  13-3-55.  Our children are being used to write the assessment. When there are 30,000 questions for the computer to choose from, our children are going to be under pressure to answer questions that there is no way any teacher could have taught in the classroom. So that begs the question, what are the questions on the test? If it was truly about the standards, wouldn’t there already be specific questions to ask to be able to ascertain which standards a child has mastered?

Children want to do well. I just don’t see the point of putting any child through the anxiety some children experience with testing, just to serve the interests of a consortium that was given $160 million to develop an assessment. We do not send our children to school to serve the school, the state Department of Education, the federal Department of Education, or a private consortium.

South Dakota law requires students to be assessed every year, grades 3-8 and 11, to measure academic progress. It seems to me that the Department of Education has decided to violate that law and use our children to serve private interests. Did they ask for your parental permission to do this? Law also requires that the test be a state-designed test shall be correlated with the state’s content standards.

SD Codified Law 13-3-55.   Academic achievement tests. Every public school district shall annually administer the same assessment to all students in grades three to eight, inclusive, and in grade eleven. The assessment shall measure the academic progress of each student. Every public school district shall annually administer to all students in at least two grade levels an achievement test to assess writing skills. The assessment instruments shall be provided by the Department of Education, and the department shall determine the two grade levels to be tested. The tests shall be administered within timelines established by the Department of Education by rules promulgated pursuant to chapter 1-26 starting in the spring of the 2002-2003 school year. Each state-designed test shall be correlated with the state’s content standards. The South Dakota Board of Education may promulgate rules pursuant to chapter 1-26 to provide for administration of all assessments.

I call upon the state of South Dakota, the Department of Education, Governor Daugaard, and the Legislature, to withdraw South Dakota from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

You can find more information about opting your children out of the assessments at United National Opt-Out and here.

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