By South Dakota law, schools are required to administer an annual test to measure academic progress in grades 3-8 and 11. South Dakota schools have been doing this since the inception of No Child Left Behind. Because of that federal mandate, South Dakota developed the Dakota STEP test aligned to our academic standards to show the academic progress of our children, and to be able to keep our federal funding.
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.
In 2010, South Dakota adopted the Common Core Standards in Math and English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. The Common Core Standards have been fully implemented in all South Dakota schools this school year. With a new set of standards, comes new annual testing. The Dakota STEP test is no longer relevant. It tests over our former academic standards.
The federal government, through Race to the Top, funded two testing consortia, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). SBAC, the consortium South Dakota belongs to, received, from the US Department of Education, an original grant amount of $159,976,843 to write the assessment and another $15,872,696 to support efforts to help participating States successfully transition to common standards and assessments. (Tell me again how the federal government is not involved in the implementation of the Common Core Standards.) Two consortia is how the federal government got around the illegal one national test. By funding both consortia, isn’t it a de facto national test?
This spring South Dakota children will participate in the SBAC assessment field test. So what does that mean? We are told this is an opportunity. Who is this really an opportunity for? The children who will sit in front of a computer for 7 – 8.5 hours, with the computer choosing from 30,000 questions? Questions that teachers don’t even know. Schools have been taking away from instructional time to do practice tests to test their bandwidth and systems, and another 7 – 8.5 hours will be lost on a field test. Teachers, parents and schools will not receive results from this assessment. There are no results for anyone except SBAC. The actual assessments will not be available until spring 2015.
Most children want to do well. I don’t see the point of putting any child through the anxiety experienced with testing, just to serve the interests of a consortium that was given $160 million taxpayer money to develop an assessment.
Did anyone ask your permission to use your children in this manner? The children of South Dakota do not attend school to serve the needs of the taxpayer funded SD Department of Education, the US Department of Education or the wants of a taxpayer funded consortium.
I ask Governor Daugaard, the SD Dep’t. of Education, and school administrators to allow parents to opt their child out of the SBAC field test without repercussion for parent/guardian or child.
I also ask the school administrators to:
- provide an alternative setting for students whose families opt them out of testing. This setting will have educational activities available and will not be punitive – such as sitting in the office while other children take the test.
- establish a formal policy in their school that children are not to be badgered or coerced into taking the test by anyone on staff.
- ensure educators will not use a family’s decision to opt their child out of standardized testing to influence grading or future classroom placement.
- honor and uphold a family’s right to make educational and emotional decisions for their child and will work with them as partners in their decision making. (Link1)
If you do not want your children participating in this field test, please contact Governor Daugaard and your local school administrators.