SMART act1Parents in Massachusetts against Common Core are concerned about HR408 and the support of Massachusett’s Senator Elizabeth Warren for the bill.  The bill’s summary:

1/20/2015–Introduced.
Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely Act or the SMART Act
Amends subpart 1 (Accountability) of part A of title VI of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to revise the program allotting grants to states to develop and administer state academic content and achievement standards and assessments of student progress toward those standards.
Requires each state to use such grant to:
develop and administer such assessments and further align them with the state’s academic content standards, ensure that students with limited English proficiency and disabled students are provided with appropriate accommodations to improve their inclusion in the assessments, develop state assessment systems aligned to content standards that support systems of continuous improvement, support local educational agencies (LEAs) in identifying uses of assessment data, and carry out certain other activities to improve the quality and use of state assessments.
Revises the program awarding competitive grants to states to enhance assessment instruments.
Requires each grantee that has not yet received a grant under such program to use the grant to:
carry out audits of the state assessment system and ensure that LEAs carry out audits of local assessments; prepare and carry out a state plan, in coordination with LEAs, to improve and streamline state and local assessment systems; and award subgrants to LEAs to improve the quality and use of local assessments and their alignment with state academic content standards. Requires a state that has previously received such a grant to use a new grant to:
carry out a state plan, in coordination with LEAs, to improve and streamline state and local assessment systems; and award subgrants to LEAs to improve the quality and use of local assessments and their alignment with state academic content standards.
Directs the Secretary to provide technical assistance to states to improve their understanding of existing flexibility in the design and implementation of high-quality, streamlined state assessment systems to measure student progress toward state academic achievement standards.
Reauthorizes appropriations for the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the revised subpart 1 grant programs.
What does this bill mean?  Does it read to you that the states must agree to the Federal policies for state assessment systems to measure student progress toward state academic achievement standards (aka Common Core State Standards)?  Does it mean that the states must have permission on what state assessments can be used and which ones can’t?  Is this the Federal Government directing education even as that is not granted to that branch of government in the Constitution?  (How’s that local control working out for the districts lately?)   Here is a letter from Senator Warren to a constituent explaining the bill and her support of it:
(click on graphic to enlarge)

 

warren letter1

warren letter2

Would this act would give permission for Federal intervention so the Federal government could identify state assessments it believes are not appropriate?  While Senator Warren believes this is a commonsense approach to free up testing, there are many citizens concerned that the state’s constitutional obligation to direct/develop testing is abrogated by such an act.  The issue of the excessive standardized testing is of valid concern but how would this bill actually give teachers the flexibility they need to lead their classrooms effectively when they must still use a centralized national set of standards?  This bill may cut down on testing time but it does not address the elephant in the room: The CCSSI that includes private non-governmental organizations owning copyrighted public educational standards which are immune to public accountability, even as the public are compelled to pay for the implementation of the standards.  

The bill gives the Federal government even more control over what is tested and what is not according to the article below.  From Ohio and SMART Act would streamline testing in Ohio schools:

MANSFIELD, Ohio – “Recognizing that we are over-testing our children is a necessary and important first step in undoing this culture of ‘test and punish’ kids and their teachers. It has gotten totally out of control,” said Columbus City Schools Teacher Courtney Johnson. Johnson, who is also the parent of a third-grader, joined Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in a news conference call March 4 in which Brown announced legislation to streamline and improve testing practices.

The legislation, introduced in January by Brown and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), is known as the Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely (SMART) Act. It would update an existing grant formula to assist states and local education agencies in aligning testing materials to college and career standards.

According to Brown, the funding can also be used to speed delivery of test data to educators and parents, providing more time for educators to design instruction based on test results. States would have the freedom to undertake audits of existing practices to eliminate unnecessary assessments, design more effective systems, and amplify effectiveness of remaining exams to support educators.

Why don’t the states have the freedom to undertake audits of existing practices to eliminate unnecessary assessments, design more effective systems, and amplify effectiveness of remaining exams to support educators presently?  This sounds like a ‘right’ to the states granted by the Federal Government.  There is no mention from Senator Brown that the bill still allows and supports assessments created by the private NGOs for ‘college and career ready’ standards that are Common Core State Standards.

The over testing is of concern to parents and teachers.  But why support a bill that gives the Federal Government more control to decide how much testing can be done via privately owned standards and assessments that are not proven to be effective/valid and are not in the public domain?  This bill may address the NEA and AFT goals to reduce testing but does absolutely nothing to dismantle national standards.  It just further cements Common Core into states by granting them money for the Federal Government to oversee the assessment procedures and ensure data collection.  As one Massachusetts mom stated:

So the districts, states and Feds have all increased the number of tests via various mandates and such, and now we need to use more taxpayer money to evaluate how to reduce the testing? I swear, you can’t make this stuff up.

It’s a bill to watch even though it has a 1% chance of passing.  As more and more calls are made to reduce standardized testing similar legislation addressing excessive testing will certainly be forthcoming.  The Federal Government’s role in deciding what assessments should be given and educational policies/reforms based on unvalidated assessments does not bode well for taxpayers, students and a constitutional republic.  Look for this language in companion bills:

SMART act2

 

 

Avatar

Gretchen Logue

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0