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Iowa Contracts with AIR as Smarter Balanced Testing Consortium Quietly Dwindles

September 29, 2017

On September 28, 2017, the Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) published an article announcing that beginning in 2018-19, Iowa students would be taking a state test produced by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

I was surprised to read this, as Iowa was supposed to be part of the Smarter Balanced Testing Consortium, one of two principal state testing alliances that were supposed to enable cross-state comparisons of the results of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Exactly seven years earlier to the day of the Gazette article, on September 28, 2010, the US Department of Education (USDOE) awarded both Smarter Balanced and PARCC (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) federal grants to develop such tests.

The USDOE announcement was last updated on July 01, 2014, to include the following states as belonging to each consortium:

Smarter Balanced Governing States (07-01-14):

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • Wisconsin

Smarter Balanced Participating States (07-01-14):

  • Iowa
  • Pennsylvania

 

PARCC Governing States (07-01-14):

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island

PARCC Participating State (07-01-14):

  • Pennsylvania

 

As of this writing, PARCC is down to only 5 governing states and DC:

The PARCC Governing Board established the governance structure for the consortium and is responsible for the major policy and operational decisions about the design, administration and scoring of the PARCC test. The Governing Board is made up of the education commissioners and superintendents from each PARCC state: Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico and the District of Columbia.

PARCC also vends its items to Louisiana, Massachusetts, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). (Note that the original conception of a CCSS consortium included only states taking complete assessments. PARCC announced its item vending option in November 2015 apparently as a means of promoting consortium survival.)

As for Smarter Balanced: On February 29, 2016, it identified its members as follows:

Smarter Balanced is led by its members: 15 states, one territory, and the Bureau of Indian Education. The consortium operates on a transparent, consensus-based governance structure. Members include Governing members and Affiliate members:

  • Governing members are fully committed to Smarter Balanced and have a vote in policy decisions.
  • Affiliate members do not administer Smarter Balanced assessments. However, they may participate in work groups and provide guidance for the development of the assessment system.

On February 29, 2016, the Smarter Balanced membership was as follows– note that he list still included Iowa:

Smarter Balanced Governing Members (02-29-16):

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • US Virgin Islands

Smarter Balanced Affiliate States (02-29-16):

  • Iowa
  • North Carolina
  • Wyoming

 

By September 28, 2017, Smarter Balanced gave up on counting its states. It also smacks of a similar survival desperation that PARCC now demonstrates in offering to vend PARCC items by Smarter Balanced’s courting “non-member states”:

Smarter Balanced is led by its members. The consortium operates on a transparent, consensus-based governance structure. There are three tiers to membership: Governing members, Affiliate members, and non-members.

  • Governing members direct the organization, including policy decisions and approving budgets, and are fully committed to Smarter Balanced.
  • Affiliate members do not administer Smarter Balanced assessments. However, they may participate in work groups and provide guidance for the development of the assessment system.
  • Non-members pay the same fee to Smarter Balanced for a high quality assessment system, but without the privilege of governance. Read more about access to Smarter Balanced resources for non-members here. If your state or vendor is interested in using Smarter Balanced resources, please contact sb@smarterbalanced.org.

As of September 29, 2017, here are the Smarter Balanced member states– absent Iowa:

Smarter Balanced Governing States (09-28-17):

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • US Virgin Islands

Smarter Balanced Affiliate State (09-28-17):

  • North Carolina

 

So, Smarter Balanced is down from 20 governing states in 2014 to 12 governing states and two US territories in 2017, and Iowa is definitely out of Smarter Balanced, which stopped listing Iowa as an affiliate state at some point between June 06, 2017, and August 06, 2017.

One issue is certain: The CCSS goal of comparing most states across the nation via two CCSS-linked, consortium-produced common assessments has already faded into the corporate reform annals of The Embarrassingly Undiscussed.

cookie crumbles

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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9 Comments
  1. What a mess the US is in due to no local state control.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. SBAC announced their “partnership” with AIR when the consortium was first established. AIR wrote the tests for SBAC and deployed them via Open Source. AIR IS SBAC. AIR is not going away…..they are going dissolve SBAC but AIR is the one who wrote the tests and are now conveniently getting the state testing contracts – triple digit millions mind you. This is all done by design.

  3. Lisa M permalink

    It may be embarrassingly undiscussed, but what is really embarrassing is that the State of MD is still hanging on to this junk. PARCC (ALGI ELA10) as a grad requirement OR AP as a grad requirement. One or the other and it’s ALL junk. The rich parents in the wealthy counties don’t get it. They like the bragging rights that their kids are test score “smart”. They drank the KoolAid. The curriculum (CC) is abysmal and the parents don’t even realize that their children have been bilked out of a real education….wait until the kids start failing in real college classes. I’m done and over it….time for private HS for my rising 9th grader next year.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more. Kids are being bilked out of an education across the U.S. and parents are extremely ignorant to this fact. They don’t want to know they have been lied to. They don’t want to know their kids have been nothing more than guinea pigs for the collassly ignorant, non-educated likes of Gates and Zuckerberg. The only and I mean THE ONLY reason their “ideas” and god awful curriculum has been implemented across the U.S. Is because of their money. They successfully purchased and bribed their way in to our schools. It sure as hell is NOT because of the “top notch” curriculum. I’ll never forget the video of the teacher telling a classroom full of people that if the student can justify 5+5 = 11 then they will go with that answer. That ignorance and disgusting ideology is what we are up against. Gates, Zuckerberg, Walton, Broad, Hastings, et al have the billions to implement this shit and buy the governors, legislators, state DOE’s, superintendents, senators, etc. to put this absolute junk in our classrooms. Parents will be in for a rude awakening when their kids fail college. Reminds me of what Duncan said about soccer moms realizing their kids aren’t as smart as they thought they were. The longer this shit stays in our classrooms – the more harm and damage its inflicting. Remember goddamn Gates admission? He won’t know if this “stuff” works for at least 10 years. Are parents complacent enough to gamble with their kids education? Do they really think Gates & Zuckerberg know what the hell they are doing? Look at what happened in Newark with Zuckerberg’s millions. Such a damn shame this is allowed to continue. They are ruining their kids futures.

    • The state board in MD is now packed with people who are paid to promote Common Core.

  4. My take from all this is that almost all the arguments that have been used to sell the CC tests are null and void. And, the psychometricians behind the effort are smart enough to have known that they would be from the start. To my mind, the only way the CC Initiative ever made any sense is as a Trojan Horse to impose the progressivist/constructivist curriculum and instruction on the country. That has succeeded. The policymakers opened the gates of Troy because they bought the sales pitches for comparability and the other claims for which no evidence existed. What they got was a warmed over version of the 1990s New Standards Project.

    Once states start to do their own thing reviewing (and changing) items, selecting (and not selecting) items, reviewing (and changing) frameworks, reviewing (and changing) blueprints, reviewing (and changing) operational test and security protocols, etc. … the test scores are not comparable. A study done for Florida, where they adopted Utah’s (allegedly SBAC aligned) item bank intact, expecting comparability, ended up with test items up to 30% non-comparable in some grades.

    • Richard you are absolutely correct. The first year of the test here in FL (the “new” FSA) was such a fiasco the FL legislators mandated a “validity” study which of course was a massive ruse/scam/sham of epic proportions considering the FL legislators are fully on board with the whole CCSS scam (especially led by Jeb Bush and his fraudulent foundations). We live in FloriDUH – the most corrupt state in the country. The “validity” study was a damn joke especially since the company who performed the study (Alpine Testing) is 100% aligned to AIR and even has ex-AIR staffers on board. The results of the validity study showed our test was aligned to Utah’s test items and had nothing to do with the FL standards and the test items were NOT aligned to the FL standards. We paid Alpine $600K for that earth shattering conclusion. The sick thing is they ignored that piece of “evidence” and went ahead and used the test results for accountabilty purposes anyway. They held our schools, teachers and students accountable for the results of a test that was NOT aligned to the FL standards. God forbid they go against Jeb’s convoluted accountabilty scheme/scam. The FL legislators put on a good show of “caring” when that was the farthest from the truth. The FDOE made a big show of telling parents, students, teachers, administrators, et al that we paid AIR/SBAC $320M for a test written specifically to the FL standards. That was a lie of epic proportions too.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: The Collapse of PARCC and SBAC | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Bill Gates Wants PARCC to Succeed. | deutsch29

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