In a five to one vote with Director Stephan Blanford giving the lone “No” vote, the Seattle School Board passed a resolution ,sponsored by Directors Sue Peters and Rick Burke, in favor of requesting the state to provide an alternative summative test to the SBAC based on the newly authorized ESSA. The request is to use a locally selected alternative summative assessment framework to measure achievement and student growth.

See Seattle Public School Board votes to pursue alternative to SBAC under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for additional information on the resolution.

We asked each of the candidates running for the position of State Superintendent to provide their thoughts on the resolution.

To follow is the response by Ron Higgins:

I fully support Seattle Public School’s request, as stated in the Seattle School Board Directors’ resolution passed during the May 18th board meeting, to establish a system to utilize alternative, locally selected assessments and use such assessments as an alternative to standard statewide assessments to measure achievement and student growth.  I am a big believer in local control, and as State Superintendent, I would take any and all action necessary to allow the Seattle Public Schools, or any school district, to use an alternative assessment in place of the standard statewide assessment. 

Article I, Section 8, of the US Constitution, enumerates the activities over which the federal government has jurisdiction, and education is not one of those activities.  The Tenth Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  I’m glad that Congress  “authorizes states to establish a system that allows districts to utilize alternative, locally selected assessments,” but Congress and the federal government have no jurisdiction over education, so their authorization is meaningless.  I believe that Washington State should allow local school districts significant autonomy to determine the testing requirements to ensure that students have mastered the essential knowledge prior to high school graduation, whether Congress approves or not.  I do not trust the competence, integrity, or agenda of the bureaucrats in the US Department of Education, and I would not depend upon them to select an appropriate test.

I have read numerous articles questioning the validity of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, that it does not accurately measure the student’s knowledge of the subject, whether English or Math; that the Assessment is not objective.  I am therefore strongly opposed to the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessment as a graduation requirement.   

Ron Higgins, Candidate for Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Certificated Math Teacher in Washington; Credentialed Math Teacher in California; Former School Bus Driver

Ron Higgins for Superintendent of Public Instruction