Why is NC still a member of SBAC?

Now that elections are over, I hope members of the General Assembly, Governor McCrory and the State Board of Education will take a close look at our membership in Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Why is NC still a member of SBAC?  You don’t have to be a lawyer to see problems with this entity. Costly tests, invasive data gathering, lack of accountability to NC voters are basic problem areas. The fundamental issue is a constitutional question.  Thankfully, Missouri (another governing state) took legal action. Dr. Berry at Breitbart writes Missouri Court Issues Temporary Block of Membership Fees to Common Core-Aligned Interstate Test Consortium, some highlights:

As reported by Anne Gassel and Gretchen Logue, co-editors of Missouri Education Watchdog and plaintiffs in the lawsuit along with Fred N. Sauer against Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), the court’s order last week states, “Plaintiffs have made a preliminary showing of likelihood of success on the merits on their claim that the Consortium is an unconstitutional interstate compact to which Congress has never consented, in violation of the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

“If plaintiffs prevail on this claim, Missouri’s membership in the Consortium is unconstitutional,” the court found.

“The order also finds that Plaintiffs made a showing that they would be irreparably harmed if the State were to disburse membership fees to an unconstitutional entity,” writes Gassel in a post on the Watchdog website. “The order temporarily blocks the State from paying over $1 million in membership fees to the consortium pursuant to a recent invoice.”

Read the full piece but here’s the takeaway:

“The lawsuit,” she said, also contends that the consortium threatens the freedom and authority of non-member states by attempting to create a de facto education ‘cartel’ aligned with Common Core.”

“We hope that this is a template attorneys and institutes dealing with constitutional issues would use in filing lawsuits regarding Common Core against their officials who signed on to consortia in violation of the Interstate Compact Clause,” Logue told Breitbart Texas. “The MOUs [memoranda of understanding] binding states to consortia were signed without voter/legislative approval and set up an oligarchic structure of private NGOs [non-governmental organizations] directing/developing public education with no public/legislative accountability measures.”

“We hope that other states will join in their pushback against the political circumvention of the process in which Common Core was adopted and implemented,” Logue added. “Common Core essentially creates a monopoly via two consortia to provide assessments for public schools creating unknown costs for taxpayers and no real competition among vendors.”

In addition to legal concerns, SBAC tests won’t be ready for the Spring. Joy Pullmann writes:

PARCC is not the only Common Core test in trouble. The other federally backed testing consortia, Smarter Balanced, won’t be ready for true tests this coming spring, says psychometrician Doug McRae, who reviewed test items recently:

The odds are that if a student uses a random marking strategy, he or she will get a proficient score quite often. This circumstance would result in many random (or invalid and unreliable) scores from the test, and reduce the overall credibility of the entire testing program. …

California plans to use the cut scores recommended by the panels that met in October for disseminating millions of test scores in spring 2015. These plans are faced with the prospect that those scores will have to be “recalled” and replaced with true or valid scores just months after incorrect scores are disseminated. This is not a pretty picture for any large-scale statewide assessment program.

He says the 2015 tests, the first “real” Common Core tests nationwide that will replace state tests, cannot offer valid data and really will only provide the information necessary for getting real tests in 2016. This would eliminate, for four to five years, the ability to know how students are doing nationally in grades 3 and 5–8 (since NAEP will still test grades 4, 8, and 12). In short, further evidence indicates withdrawing from Common Core could create less chaos for children, teachers, and taxpayers than remaining in its clutches.

Too bad North Carolina is failing to lead the way out. NC taxpayers, hold on to your wallets, see Common Core Tests to Cost S.C. Taxpayers Millions, South Carolina led the way and pulled out of SBAC, so have other states, why is NC still a member? We would be wise to follow our neighbors to the South.

Besides membership fees, states also would be responsible for the costs of administering and scoring the assessment tests, King said.

Share your concerns with elected officials, you can find members of the General Assembly here