Opting-Out of Common Core Aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments in New Hampshire

Did you know that Smarter Balanced Assessments will not be "verified" by 2014-2015 when students across New Hampshire are expected to take these assessments?

By their own admission, Smarter Balanced Assessments will NOT be "VERIFIED" by 2014-2015 when NH students are expected to take them. </p />
<p>Students cannot be required to take part in RESEARCH for Pearson to develop their for-profit tests without the INFORMED CONSENT from parents.</p>
<p>Under state law, NH RSA 193-C:1 II,  the statewide assessments “serves as an effective measure of accountability when the assessment exercises or tasks are valid and appropriate representations of the curriculum standards that students are expected to achieve.”</p>
<p>Before using any assessment to determine student success or failure, the assessment itself must pass rigorous criteria of validity and reliability.  To date there has been no published data on the technical adequacy of Smarter Balanced assessments to formal and informal venues for review.  Why has Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC) failed to publish the validity and reliability of their tests?</p>
<p>According to the U. S. DoE - SBAC cooperative agreement:</p>
<p>“An eligible applicant awarded a grant under this category must ---</p>
<p>   1. Evaluate the validity, reliability, and fairness of the summative assessment components of the assessment system, and make available through formal mechanisms (e.g., peer-reviewed journals) and informal mechanisms (e.g., newsletters), and in print and electronically, the results of any evaluations it conducts; “(p. 11)</p>
<p>Pearson is the only corporation developing these SBAC assessments. Yet there is no technical adequacy data, which makes these current pilot tests nothing more than research activities. As research activities under contract with the U.S. Department of Education, the researcher must conform with Institutional Review Board standards, which requires informed consent from the guardians of minors. Moreover, parents are not compelled to submit their children as participants in a research activity.</p>
<p>Districts cannot be required to administer Smarter Balanced assessments. Nor can students be forced to take these assessments.</p>
<p>http://www.nctm.org/uploadedFiles/Research_News_and_Advocacy/Summing_Up/Articles/2011/SBAC_Overview.pdf

 

These assessments were "piloted" last year, 2012-2013, and will be in "field testing" this year, 2013-2014.  They will not be verified until 2015-2016.  See page 22.

Before using any assessment to determine student success or failure, the assessment itself must pass rigorous criteria of validity and reliability. To date there has been no published data on the technical adequacy of Smarter Balanced assessments to formal and informal venues for review. Why has Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC) failed to publish the validity and reliability of their tests?

According to the COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT Between the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION and the SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT CONSORTIUM:

“An eligible applicant awarded a grant under this category must ---

1. Evaluate the validity, reliability, and fairness of the summative assessment components of the assessment system, and make available through formal mechanisms (e.g., peer-reviewed journals) and informal mechanisms (e.g., newsletters), and in print and electronically, the results of any evaluations it conducts; “(p. 11)

Pearson is the only corporation developing these SBAC assessments. Yet there is no technical adequacy data, which means these current "pilot" and "field tests" are nothing more than research activities. As research activities under contract with the U.S. Department of Education, the researcher must conform with Institutional Review Board standards, which requires informed consent from the guardians of minors. Moreover, parents cannot be compelled to submit their children as participants in a research activity.

State law requires that all statewide assessments are "valid and appropriate."  The Smarter Balanced assessments are not "valid" or "appropriate."

RSA 193-C III (b) "The assessment exercises or tasks shall be valid and appropriate representations of the standards the students are expected to achieve."

State law requires that statewide assessments must be "objectively scored." Smarter Balanced assessments cannot be objectively scored.

RSA 193-C II. The assessment portion of the program shall consist of a variety of assessment tasks which can be objectively scored.

Smarter Balanced assessments measure student "dispositions," which cannot be objectively measured.

Smarter Balanced recognizes that college readiness encompasses a wide array of knowledge, skills, and dispositions, only some of which will be measured by the Smarter Balanced assessments. (page 7)

To measure "disposition" students will be questioned on their values, attitudes or beliefs.

2013 Senate Bill 48 stipulates that statewide assessments should measure "knowledge and skills," which can be objectively measured, not student "dispositions," which can only be subjectively measured.  Measuring student "dispositions" was explicitly removed from this bill.

RSA 193-H:1a. II. New Hampshire's student assessment system should promote and measure knowledge and skills that lead students to graduate from high schools ready for college and career.

Smarter Balanced assessments cannot provide a valid, appropriate or objective measurement of student performance. 

Moreover, Students cannot be required to take part in research for Pearson to develop its for-profit assessments without  informed consent from parents.

Districts cannot be required to violate state law while administering Smarter Balanced assessments. Nor can students be forced to take assessments which are not verified or that measure student dispositions.

Despite all this, schools have administered Smarter Balanced assessments to unsuspecting students as part of "pilot" or "field testing" programs for Pearson -- without first obtaining informed consent from parents. Districts risk lawsuits from parents should they discover the truth.

Nor parents have not been allowed to exercise "the right to inspect and review" their child's assessment materials. To date, the NH Department of Education has failed to release any assessment materials. 

RSA 193-C:10 Accessibility of Assessment MATERIALS. –After the assessment results are released by the department, a pupil's parent or legal guardian shall have the right to inspect and review the pupil's assessment booklet, answer or response sheets, surveys, instructions or directions to the pupil, and any other supplemental materials utilized to administer the assessment. A parent or legal guardian shall direct a request for inspection or review to the pupil's school, and the school shall comply with such request within 45 days of its receipt. The commissioner shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, to implement procedures for the review and inspection of assessment materials. These rules shall provide parents and legal guardians with no fewer rights accorded to them under the Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act, 20 U.S.C. 1232g.

Without the ability to inspect and review these assessment materials, parents are being denied their right to Opt-Out of "objectionable materials" as guaranteed under state law:

RSA 186:11 IX-c. Require school districts to adopt a policy allowing an exception to specific course material based on a parent's or legal guardian's determination that the material is objectionable. Such policy shall include a provision requiring the parent or legal guardian to notify the school principal or designee in writing of the specific material to which they object and a provision requiring an alternative agreed upon by the school district and the parent, at the parent's expense, sufficient to enable the child to meet state requirements for education in the particular subject area. The name of the parent or legal guardian and any specific reasons disclosed to school officials for the objection to the material shall not be public information and shall be excluded from access under RSA 91-A.

Given the lack of transparency, parents should simply assume that these materials, assessments, are objectionable.

Just how many laws are being violated in the administration of these Smarter Balanced assessments?  Districts really need to investigate this issue in more depth before administering these assessments.

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