Wyoming Could Have Serious Problems Replacing Smarter Balanced Student Assessment

A KOTA TV headline, “Wyoming Drops Out of Common Core Group,” suggests that state officials are moving towards replacing the Common Core. They are not. This week, State Superintendent Jillian Barrow announced the state will terminate its affiliation with the Smarter Balanced testing consortium. But that doesn’t mean the state has walked away from the Common Core.

“Wyoming’s affiliation with SBAC raises red flags for me as we consider a new statewide assessment,” Barrow said in a statement. “Any real or perceived conflict, such as with SBAC, detracts from securing the most appropriate assessment for Wyoming students.”

One of the hallmarks of Smarter Balanced assessments was the ability for teacher and parents to compare how well schools were preparing students relative to their counterparts across the country. Wyoming officials now face the challenge of producing high-quality assessments that achieve that are aligned to the state’s standards and accurately measure student readiness.

An analysis by Achieve this year found most states have significantly narrowed their “honesty gaps” by implementing rigorous education standards and challenging assessments. Wyoming closed discrepancies between state reported proficiency rates and those identified by NAEP by eight percentage points in fourth-grade reading.

To build on that momentum, officials must ensure statewide assessments honestly reflect student preparedness. “By adhering to a loftier standard and adopting next-generation assessments, [states] will set [their] students on a path to learn more and achieve at higher levels than they otherwise would have done,” Mike Petrilli wrote last month about other states considering new assessments.