Back in December, Governor Markell and Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky announced the Smarter Balanced Assessment was going away for high school juniors. Because the College Board aligned the SAT with Common Core, why take both tests? Today is the annual SAT day for the juniors. The state pays for all of them to take the test. I am very curious how the scores will be this year with the realignment. I haven’t heard a peep about any parent wanting to opt their kid out of the SAT. Or as I like to call it, Smarter Balanced Junior.
I actually heard one district gave all the 9th and 10th graders off tomorrow. Did others do this as well and why? Does the testing environment have to be in the right alignment as well for the juniors? And why not give the seniors off as well? Only in Delaware! We are a state that is obsessed from the top down with testing. We can’t escape from it because our Governor, legislators, and the DOE believe it is essential. But our hubris comes at a price. We don’t look at the quality, only the results.
The Delaware Department of Education held a District Test Coordinators meeting on March 16th, 2016. The full report is below. The presentation covered all things testing: Smarter Balanced, DCAS Science, DCAS Social Studies, and the new SAT. One of the most shocking finds in this presentation was the revelation the redesigned for the Common Core State Standards SAT will be used for accountability purposes this year. For those who may not be aware, prior to this year, the Smarter Balanced Assessment was used as the 11th grade state assessment for high school juniors. In late December last year, Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky made an announcement that the College Board redesigned SAT would replace the Smarter Balanced Assessment. While the legislation that allowed for the transition from DCAS to the Smarter Balanced Assessment did not specifically name Smarter Balanced in the wording of the bill, House Bill 334 does clearly state:
(b) The Department shall administer both accountability and growth assessments of student achievement for students in grades 3-8, provided that additional grades may be added by the Department. (c) The assessments referred to in subsection (b) of this section shall measure achievement in English language arts and mathematics for students in a minimum of grades 3 through 8 and high school, provided additional grades may be added by the Department
But here’s the kicker, this is a brand new test. It has been reformulated (like New Coke and those who lived in the 1980s know how that went over) to align with the Common Core. It took a long time for many states to get the scores from the PSAT this year. Many are already saying the new SAT is horrible (just like they did with Smarter Balanced which is why I call it Smarter Balanced Junior). At least with the regular Smarter Balanced the DOE gave a one year pause for accountability purposes. But they must have a lot of faith in the new SAT. Who made this decision? Godowsky? Markell?
My big question would be how you measure growth for the new SAT. Furthermore, how do you even measure growth when students skip grades 9 and 10? Or are they measuring growth between last year’s juniors who took the brand new Smarter Balanced or the old SAT? I thought the DOE would get smarter (no pun intended) with Godowsky, but it looks like they are fumbling at the fifty yard line yet again. The only reason they came up with this not-so brilliant plan to begin with was because too many juniors opted out of Smarter Balanced last year. But they must test, label and punish, even with a new, unproven, and already controversial test.
All the latest testing news is in here, including the draft of next year’s testing windows.
Tomorrow at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting in Dover, DE, a presentation will be given on Delaware’s 2015 SAT performance and upcoming changes to the test in 2016. Last Spring, Chief Officer of Assessment and Accountability Penny Schwinn at the Delaware DOE advised the State Board the SAT was being aligned with Common Core. Some states have already dumped the state standardized assessment for 11th graders because of this.
Only two high schools in Delaware had over 50% of their students reach the “college ready” benchmark on the 2015 SATs. With alignment to the Common Core how will high school juniors perform next year? When I see terms like “personalized learning” and “problems grounded in real world contexts”, I think Common Core and all it’s education reform friends. Will we ever escape from the Common Core? January 2017 can’t get here fast enough and hopefully we will have a good Governor and a good President who can guide our state and country away from this insanity…