Mary Ellen Miller Spins Iowa State Board’s Smarter Balanced Decision

The Iowa State Board of Education voted last Thursday to mandate Smarter Balanced Assessment for all school districts next school year replacing the Iowa Assessments.

Reading this WHO TV article featuring Iowa State Board member Mary Ellen Miller you would like that this assessment was full of unicorns and rainbows.

Now, after setting the pace, Iowa educators find themselves having to play catch up.  Miller said, “Half the country used the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Now the only state still using it is Iowa.  So that says something right there too,”

Miller says the current testing has not changed with the times and it is causing a glaring concern.  “People my age grew up in an age where Iowa was at the top in charts of education.  We are in the middle and that’s hard for some of us to swallow and we want to bring Iowa back to that top level.”

In order to reach that success once again, last Thursday the State Board of Education voted unanimously to replace the current assessments for math and reading with the Smarter Balanced Assessment, created by 26 states, including Iowa.  The assessment is a centerpiece of a report in 2014 from the Iowa Assessment Task Force.  Schoolchildren will begin using it during the 2016-2017 school year.

Miller insinuates that teachers complained about assessments solely because the assessments were not aligned to the standards (actually the Iowa Assessments were, and the developers were working on the Next Generation Iowa Assessments which the Assessment Task Force and Board rejected).  She also states in the article that students will have more time so they won’t feel pressured.

Kids were stressed because of how much emphasis is placed upon these assessments. A number of teachers are not high-stakes testing fans.

Miller warns about “roadblocks” (read drastic test score drops):

While Miller admits there will be some hurdles along the way,”This is gonna take a while to adapt.  This is probably going to take 2-3 years for everyone to really feel comfortable with.”

Educators believe the new standards will give Iowa students a better chance to reach their true potential.

Miller said, “What we have done nationwide with the core is raise expectations for our students so that we are moving beyond what we used to do which was rote memorization. Now we want students proving they can apply knowledge.  Why are we doing this? Because we want them to be successful in life.”

What the Board did was raise the mandated assessment costs for local school districts for an unproven, invalid test which has been a nightmare to implement in several states.  That’s not to even mention the the drop in test scores Smarter Balanced states have seen.

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 +.

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