Misinformation on Common Core Assessment Language in Iowa HF 215


I am thrilled with the stand that Iowa House and Senate Republicans are taking on educational freedom.  The only thing I’m not happy about at the moment is that there is no plan to strip the assessment language from the House Bill (HF 215). Little birdies have told me there is misinformation going on from Iowa Department of Education staffers which could be the reason why this has not been done. They are saying that there isn’t any language related to Smarter Balanced Assessments.

If they are referring to State Senator Amy Sinclair’s assessment amendment in the Senate bill they would be correct. However the amendment that State Representative Ron Jorgensen (R-Sioux City) offered, was passed, and now is a provision in the House Bill says (starting at line 30-3):

Annually, the department shall report state data for each indicator in the condition of education report. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection shall specify that the approved district=wide assessment of student progress administered for purposes of this paragraph the indicators shall be the assessment utilized by school districts statewide in the school year beginning July 1, 2011, or a successor assessment administered by the same assessment provider. (2) Notwithstanding subparagraph (1), for the school year beginning July 1, 2014, and each succeeding school year, the rules shall provide that all students enrolled in school districts in grades three through eleven shall, within forty=five days of the end of the school year, be administered an assessment that at a minimum assesses the indicators identified in this paragraph “b”; is aligned with the Iowa common core standards in both content and rigor; is developed by a consortium in which the state of Iowa is a participant; accurately describes student achievement and growth for purposes of the school, the school district, and state accountability systems; and provides valid, reliable, and fair measures of student progress toward college or career readiness. (3) The director shall establish a task force to review and assist with the final development and implementation of the assessment specified in subparagraph (2). The task force members shall include but not be limited to teachers, school administrators, business leaders, representatives of state agencies, and members of the general public. This subparagraph is repealed July 1, 2015. (bold emphasis mine)

This could mean nothing but the Smarter Balanced Assessments. What other consortium does the state of Iowa belong to? It could also be applied to PARCC if for some reason SBAC goes under and Iowa decides to join. These are the only two consortiums that are developing assessments fully aligned to the Common Core (which are now Iowa’s Math and ELA standards).

Then there is this email I received from the Iowa Department of Education director, Jason Glass, the day after I wrote a post expressing my unhappiness about this being a part of the bill when I was told it wasn’t going to be pushed until next year.

It did not originate with the DE – our language was in the Governor’s original proposal and our plan on SBAC was exactly what I communicated to you earlier. However, I do support the amendment and am fine with this work being accelerated.

So according to Glass this is referring to SBAC.

Here’s why I’m against Smarter Balanced Assessments:

  • Cost, we still don’t know how much these will cost. Wouldn’t it make sense to find out that information first?
  • Student privacy: There’s a possibility these assessments could be used for data mining, wouldn’t it make to have the assessments developed before the legislature signs on to them?
  • If the assessments are aligned to the standards and teachers could end up be evaluated by them (as is happening in other states) how could that not impact the curriculum?
  • There is already a tendency to teach to the test with assessments like these so it is bogus to claim that the Common Core are just standards and not curriculum.
  • This is being driven by the U.S. Department of Education through funding and now they have established a committee who will review the content of the assessments. Republican legislators who care about federalism – that’s ok with you?
  • This further entrenches the Common Core into our state which have not received public feedback from Iowa citizens, legislature or field testing prior to implementation. If legislators sign off on SBAC they are in effect signing off on the Common Core.

So below is the list of the conference committee members. Thank the Republicans for standing firm on educational freedom measures, encourage the Democrats to accept their offer, and ask both to please, please remove the assessments language from the House bill so Iowans can have a chance to weigh in on this next year.

Iowa Senate Members:

Iowa House Members:

Photo Credit (top picture): Audio Luci Store via Flickr (CC By 2.0)

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.


  1. Isaiah McGee says:

    Shane, it is fair to share your criticism over SBAC, the Common Core, the legislative
    process, or even your view of the Iowa Department of Education. However, I would like more clarification on your statement ” Little birdies have told me there is misinformation going on from Iowa Department of Education staffers” As one of those “staffers”, it makes it appear
    as if there are folks among our staff who are purposely misleading lawmakers, particularly those of us who work daily at the Capitol. Since you are a journalist, a conservative and a Christian you have a responsibility to make sure you are publicizing truth and not easily leading people astray. I asked that before quickly publish rumors that could be interpreted as questioning someone’s integrity. You put some effort into verifying what “little birdies” are telling you. Misinterpretations can be a slippery slope. They not only hurt the intended target, but also the messenger, the writer, and the platform. Don’t let your work be reduced down to a gossip column.

    • Point taken. My source is pretty reliable, but I didn’t want to out him. Here’s the thing Isaiah. I’m not a paid lobbyist. I can’t be up at the Statehouse every day. It is difficult to combat bad information. The person I talked to (I’m pretty sure you know who I’m talking about) said several people representing public schools and the DOE told him SBAC language wasn’t in the bill in response to what I had written.

      I did say in the article if they were referencing the Senate bill they were correct. If they were talking about the House bill then that isn’t the case. “Misinformation” implies lying you say… ok, bad information then. I was told the language didn’t come from you guys, but it’s in there. So DOE staff is unaware?

      I’m frustrated Isaiah. I frustrated by the process and how this was snuck in. I’m frustrated by legislators who still don’t quite understand the breadth of this issue and I’m not just talking about my perspective. There are legislators I’m sure you are aware who don’t even know the difference between the Iowa Core and the Common Core.

      I’m frustrated by a media that has hardly reported on this. I feel alone. Anyway, my intent wasn’t to smear anyone’s character, but to get the truth out there that the language does exist. I wasn’t pointing any fingers at specific people because I wouldn’t know who they are. I really don’t care. I want legislators to know that this language is in the bill, and in my opinion needs to be removed from the bill so it can be studied at the very least.

  2. Concerned parent says:

    I’ve got 4 kids in the system now and what I’m flinging out about common core frightens me. I agree there needs to be changes but NOT this. Locally we putting up a fight about the grade scale change. They’re going to a ‘plus minus’ scale because Fs have a negative stigma attached to it and As alienate less gifted kids. I’m sick of this politically correct garbage thats now being pushed on our kids. I appreciate what your doing and im joining ing on letting others know about it.

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