Sunday, February 15, 2015


Idaho schools are currently preparing for the statewide administration of the SBAC, due to begin in just six weeks. 

Over in Rexburg, Madison School District Superintendent Geoffrey Thomas has raised the idea of opting his district out of the SBAC administration, and in January sent a letter to Superintendent Ybarra requesting that Madison be allowed to use the Measures of Academic Progress instead of the SBAC to assess Madison students. Thomas' request, approved by the Madison Board, was reported in the Idaho State Journal of Pocatello.

On January 30, Idaho Ed News reporter Clark Corbin wrote that Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg) was "pushing a bill designed to remove Idaho from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium."

Corbin also quoted Superintendent Sherri Ybarra, who noted that Idaho is required to administer the SBAC this year because of an agreement made by her predecessor that specifically requires Idaho to give the test.

Superintendent Ybarra is correct. Idaho is required to administer the SBAC beginning in March of this year under provisions of the No Child Left Behind waiver agreement with the federal government. Though we believe that the 7-8 hour test is far too long, has confusing directions and unwieldy reading passages, and will create logistical problems for Idaho schools, the test must be given this year. Next year? Well, that's another matter.

It is important to remember that Southern Idaho Conference Superintendents met with Ybarra's predecessor in December, 2013 and expressed many of the concerns Thomas wrote of in his letter. That was the time to make a change in the waiver for 2014-15 testing, but the former Superintendent wanted to hold the line on testing with the SBAC.

So beginning in March, schools statewide will administer the SBAC in grades 3-8 and 10. Next in Data Points is an analysis of the consequences of the testing for Districts, schools, and students.