Smarter Balanced assessments are “a bust” and “continuing these invalid tests comes at a steep price,” argues Wendy Lecker, an attorney with the Education Law Center, in the Stamford Advocate.
Among her criticisms, Lecker suggests that there is “no evidence that the SBAC is valid to measure student ‘growth’” and “administrators overwhelmingly agree that the SBAC is not user-friendly for students with disabilities or English Language Learners.”
Contrary to her argument, however, the evidence overwhelmingly shows high-quality assessments like Smarter Balanced outperform old “bubble tests” and even most next-generation tests. They provide valuable information to help parents and teachers more accurately measure student growth and to provide support where their kids need it the most.
Smarter Balanced assessments are among the best indicators of readiness and provides parents and teachers with accurate, actionable information about how well their students are progressing towards finishing high school prepared for post-secondary success. As we cited before, the National PTA also reinforces the need for high-quality student assessments.
Contrary to what Lecker claims, the Smarter Balanced test offers the largest array of accommodations and accessibility features for students with disabilities and English Language Learners ever provided in a statewide test (including Braille and glossaries in 10 languages).
High quality tests like those used within the Smarter Balanced program are also especially important for minority and low-income students and why those groups are strongly supportive of them. Many civil rights groups have underscored the importance of quality student assessments, especially for students of color and those from low-income communities. For those states that have shown a good-faith effort to have an equitable implementation of these high quality standards – they are now seeing positive returns, as will other states that continue to follow in their steps.
Finally, Lecker’s piece fails to recognize the dangers of Connecticut abandoning its current high quality assessments and going it alone. As Collaborative for Student Success Executive Director Jim Cowen noted, that route has proven a poor decision for states. “Beyond the costs, time constraints and technical challenges that accompany the development and implementation of new assessments, states that have struck out on their own have also jeopardized their ability to compare their progress to other states—and may very well come out with an inferior assessment in the process.”
High standards and high-quality assessments best serve all students’ needs, help prepare them for college and career, and are delivering promising results. To change course now would be a mistake.