Iowa Puts Common Core Assessments on Hold



smarterbalanceWhen I wrote last night about the landmark home education legislation that was passed by the Iowa Legislature yesterday I didn’t have a chance to read the conference committee report on HF 215.  I was delightfully surprised to learn this morning that Smarter Balanced Assessments language was in fact removed from the bill that passed yesterday.  The conference committee removed the “consortium” language that would not limit Iowa to Smarter Balanced or PARCC.   They are pushing any new assessment off to the 2016-2017 school year and are creating a task force that will study this issue, including cost.  The task force will have to report their findings to the Director of the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa State Board of Education and the Iowa Legislature by January 1, 2015.

This is a big win.  Here’s the specific language below:

(2) Notwithstanding subparagraph (1), for the school year beginning July 1, 2016, and each succeeding school year, the rules shall provide that all students enrolled in school districts in grades three through eleven shall be administered an assessment during the last quarter of the school year that at a minimum assesses the indicators identified in this paragraph “b”; is aligned with the Iowa common core standards in both content and rigor; accurately describes student achievement and growth for purposes of the school, the school district, and state accountability systems; and provides valid, reliable, and fair measures of student progress toward college or career readiness.

(3) The director shall establish an assessment task force to review and make recommendations for a statewide assessment of student progress on the indicators identified pursuant to this paragraph “b”. The task force shall recommend a statewide assessment that is aligned to the Iowa common core standards and is, at a minimum, valid, reliable, tested, and piloted in Iowa. In addition, in developing recommendations, the task  force shall consider the costs to school districts and the state in providing and administering such an assessment and the technical support necessary to implement the assessment. The task force shall submit its recommendations in a report to the director, the state board, and the general assembly by January 1, 2015. The task force shall assist with the final development and implementation of the assessment administered pursuant to subparagraph (2). The task force members shall include but not be limited to teachers, school administrators, business leaders, representatives of state agencies, and members of the general public. This subparagraph is repealed July 1, 2020.

Needless to say, I am thrilled with this development!  Thank you to the members of the conference committee who removed the original language.  Obviously there is work yet to be done, but this is a good start for Iowa.

HT: Education in Iowa