Missouri Tosses Smarter Balanced
The Missouri Legislature has banned the Smarter Balanced standardized tests,
leaving Missouri education officials with nine months to come up with
alternative standardized tests to avoid breaking federal law, according to a
report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has signed into law an appropriations
bill that eliminates $4.2 million for the state Department of Education to
pay for the Smarter Balanced tests next year and provides the department with
$7 million to develop new tests. Federal law requires states to conduct
standardized tests, so education administrators will have to scramble to come up
with an alternative in time for next spring.
The Smarter Balanced tests were developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment
Consortium, which provided Missouri and 17 other states with standardized tests
aligned to the Common Core State
Standards. Smarter Balanced was one of two organizations selected to create
Common Core-aligned tests, the other being the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and
Careers (PARCC). Collectively, the two organizations received $330 million
in grants from the United States Department of Education to develop the
The Common Core State Standards and its corresponding assessments have been
a source of controversy. According to a survey of 5,700
teachers conducted by the Missouri State Teachers Association in May 2015, 52
percent of respondents said preparing students for the Smarter Balanced tests
this spring took up more classroom time than previous tests. And according to
information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Smarter Balanced failed to meet
its contractual obligations to the state because it didn't provide teachers
with interim tests to monitor student learning throughout the year. However,
Peter Herschend, president of the Missouri Board of Education, has called the
new law "an absolute frontal attack on the perception of Common Core," which
was designed to increase academic rigour and better prepare students for
college and careers.
According to the Post-Dispatch, the Missouri Department of Education is
considering soliciting bids from testing companies for alternative assessments
to use next spring. Meanwhile, state education officials are planning to
develop their own replacement test for the 2016-17 school year, although the
Department of Education is not obligated to adopt that test.
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].