Some legislators continue to raise questions about the Idaho Core Standards and how the state will assess them. In an effort to help quell concerns of some lawmakers, Superintendent Luna’s office was invited to present information on the SBAC test to members of the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. According to information provided by the SDE, over 100 Idaho teachers have been involved in the development and review of test items.
Throughout the presentation, committee members learned that all Idaho students in grades 3-12 will pilot the test this spring. The math test is expected to take 2.5 to 3 hours to complete; the English/Language Arts test may require between 3.5 to 4 hours to complete. Unlike the ISAT, students will not be expected to complete the entire test in one sitting. The SBAC is designed to allow students to complete the test in short bites. Legislators also learned that beginning in the fall of 2014, Idaho will have an option to purchase a interim item bank of test questions that will allow teachers to develop practice tests to prepare students for the annual summative assessment, which will be made up of computer adaptive multiple choice and short answer questions and performance tasks to measure higher-order thinking skills.
Supt. Luna pointed out that Idaho has been very deliberate in phasing in the standards and the test. He reminded lawmakers that concerns over the length of the test and the logistics in delivering the test have caused Idaho to do a three-year phase in of the test. In 2013, Idaho conducted a pilot test. This spring Idaho will conduct a field test, and in the spring of 2015 Idaho will fully-implement the test. In response to a question by Rep. Ward-Engleking, Luna assured lawmakers that we will need to raise expectations over time for the purposes of holding educators and students accountable.
Committee members peppered Supt. Luna and members of his staff with questions about the standards. At least one lawmaker, Sen. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) debated the development of the standards and his belief that they are federally-driven and will ultimately limit student performance. By the end of the meeting, committee members had many questions that were left unanswered, and they were asked to submit them to the department for written response. Chairman Goedde (R-CDA) assured the panel that if needed, the committee could continue the conversation at a later date.