The Wall of Shame

The state and school district are spending millions of dollars to buy the copyrighted tests, texts and teaching materials, purchasing computers and setting up the technology to administer the SBAC.

We are not only paying in terms of cash but also in terms of our children’s time in school spending three days in a row this week taking the first part of the SBAC along with eliminating resources such as library and computer time for students.

In simple terms, our children are being used for product development.

A call to the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) confirmed that the SBAC has not been deemed reliable or valid. The office of the OSPI then referred to a memorandum produced by Smarter Balanced that proves the test is being used this year for the purpose of, hopefully for Pearson, establishing reliability and validity of the tests.

This is the relevant segment of the memo:

Test reliability will initially be modeled through simulations using the item pool after item review, which is due to be completed December 31, 2014. Operational test reliability will be reported in the technical manual following the first operational administration in spring 2015.

Evaluation Phase:

Once the Smarter Balanced assessments are administered operationally in spring 2015, it will be possible to determine “external validity,” which is the degree to which test results correspond to external indicators (consistent with expectations).

For example, students who perform well on the summative test are expected to perform well in the classroom. These external research studies are listed in the attached Validation Worksheet document.

The information in this table shows the main validity activities established through the Smarter Balanced Validity Framework and the associated sources of evidence, past, present, and future. Because this type of evidence continues to be gathered through the operational administration of the assessments, this table mostly reflects future plans for external validity.

People, we’ve been had.

Some of our legislators, school board members and the superintendent have led us down the path. School Board Directors Sue Peters and Betty Patu requested a hearing on a resolution that states the SBAC has not been deemed valid but did not receive the vote to be heard. They understand what is happening and kudos to them for getting the word out. You can read Sue Peters’ introduction to the resolution below.

The ramifications of using our students as guinea pigs to validate the SBAC for Pearson are huge.

Graduation is now being determined by a student’s performance on the SBAC. The grade of a school and, according to the defenders of the test, Title I funding is being predicated on the results of the SBAC tests.

The time is now to take a careful look at what we are doing to our children and teachers and consider opting out of this SBAC testing immediately.

Also, contact OSPI, your state legislators and school board members about this situation.

The OSPI and the Superintendent Nyland coercing our students into taking the SBAC is wrong on so many levels.


For those who think Pearson has nothing to do with SBAC, read this from the SBAC website:

Smarter Balanced and PARCC to Launch New Technology Readiness Tool to Support Transition to Online Assessments

Pearson to Develop and Support Open Source Tool for Evaluating School Technology and Infrastructure Readiness

Olympia, Wash.–Jan. 31, 2012–The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) today announced they have awarded a contract to Pearson to develop a new Technology Readiness Tool to support states as they transition to next-generation assessments. This new open source tool, with the assistance of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), will support state education agencies as they work with local education agencies to evaluate and determine needed technology and infrastructure upgrades for the new online assessments to be launched by the two consortia in the 2014-15 school year.

Dora Taylor

School Board Director Sue Peters’ introduction to the resolution:

We are asking our colleagues on the board to allow an addition to the agenda of a resolution for introduction tonight. No vote on the resolution itself is required tonight. There will be two more weeks available for consideration and feedback.

To my colleagues, these are the extenuating circumstances that bring us to this atypical request.

Our resolution concerns the new Common Core Smarter Balanced tests which the test-manufacturer itself acknowledges will fail 60 percent or more of our students, with even higher failure rates for  students of color, English Language Learners and students with special needs.

These tests will be administered to elementary school students as soon as next week.

This resolution is also in response  to growing and legitimate concerns in the community that came to a head last week when Nathan Hale high school registered concerns and objections to the impact of the test on its 11th grade students, for whom the test has no bearing on graduation.

As for the argument that the tests are a state or federal mandate, I would respond that the very legislators who voted to adopt the Common Core state standards and their associated assessments – without any public dialogue —  are not fulfilling their own mandate, but are being held in contempt by the state supreme court for failing to fully fund K-12 public education.

At one point do we stand up and say this mandate will harm our students, our children?

Common Core and the tests were adopted without any community conversation about the value and implications of both. We need to have those discussions at the state and district level.

This was not a spontaneous effort. I have requested this discussion for a year. Others on the board have long expressed concerns about testing. I requested an assessments work session, but that didn’t satisfactorily cover the impact and implications of SBAC. A few points that were brought up in that discussion are included in the resolution.

It should come as a surprise to no one that these tests are problematic. And at the same time, it has become apparent that we have not clearly communicated with our students and families what the impact and nature of these tests will be. We need to have this conversation honestly, openly — and immediately.

We requested to have the resolution added to next week’s Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting, but have been told the agenda is already finalized, and there may not be an opportunity to take it through committee until April.

This matter demands greater urgency than that would allow. So we bring it before you tonight to begin the conversation about what does it mean to administer an experimental new test to our students that the majority are expected to fail, and how does it reconcile with our duties to these students to ensure their well-being and success? If we don’t show some courage and vision on behalf of our students, who will?

Thank you for your consideration.