The following letter was sent from middle school Principal John Nelson of Fairgrounds Middle School in Nashua New Hampshire to the New Hampshire state department of elementary and secondary education to let them know what his teachers’ experience with the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia test that they took during their December Early Release. Nelson believed his  teachers had been successfully incorporating Common Core into their Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) and teaching practices.

Nashua letter

To put into perspective where NH falls with regards to standards, they were 5th in the country in 4th grade mathematics standards for proficient performance in 2009 before the implementation of Common Core. They were 7th in the country (MO was No. 1, MA was 19) for National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scale equivalents of state grade 8 reading standards for proficient performance according to the Nations Report Card produced by the NAEP.

The comments listed in his letter came from “frustrations they (teachers) had when they were taking the test and disappointment in test format and the difficulties they had trying to use their computer to take this test” that teachers expressed in a debriefing session. Some comments that stand out.

  • I feel sad for the students who have to take this test — not many will be successful.
  • Kids won’t even get past the computer directions
  • This was more of a test on the computer skills than on math concepts.
  • I am concerned that the math test is not necessarily testing students math abilities since there is so much reading.
  • I did 30 questions in an hour and then had to take a break. My eyes hurt and my shoulders felt strained. When I returned 5 minutes later the work was gone.

These comments mirror those given by New York teacher and parents and seem to indicate that the SBAC test is far from ready for a full scale roll out. The concerns are so broad and deeply embedded in the concept of on-line adaptive testing, it is unlikely that the 6-12 months SBAC has before the first official tests are to be administered will be enough to address them. It certainly begs the question whether states should be basing any education decisions on student scores on these flawed tests.

Missouri children are not required by law to take the standardized tests the school is obligated to administer. Why make them sit through a company’s product development process. Refuse the SBAC test. Download the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core suggested Opt Out Form here.



Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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