Gavel and Books

 

A few months ago a lawsuit was filed by Fred Sauer which alleges that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an unconstitutional interstate compact that was not approved by Congress, in violation of the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 3, Clause 10.  The suit also alleges that Governor Nixon and Commissioner Nicastro’s course of conduct in committing Missouri to Common Core was in violation of numerous federal and state statutes.

On October 1, 2014 Clark and Sauer filed a motion requesting the judge in the case issue a  a temporary restraining order barring the state from paying the first installment of our membership dues to SBAC until the lawsuit had been fully adjudicated.

Through discovery it was learned that the first $1M payment of the state’s $4M membership dues was due at the end of October.  To date, the Cole County judge has not ruled on that injunction request. That means, in essence, that the first payment has been made because there was nothing to stop it.

It was also learned in discovery that SBAC will not require states to be members in order to use the SBAC tests. It just happens that the cost to buy the test will be the same as the cost of membership. Clever huh?

There has been no other action on the lawsuit. It is still in the court system with no final ruling having been given.

Recently Commissioner Nicastro told Superintendents that the path to using SBAC this spring has been cleared. The reality, however, is that the path to using SBAC has never been barred. Since HB1490 says the state shall administer a test this spring (because we are still under NCLB accountability requirements) neither the lawsuit nor the law would prohibit the state from “buying” the SBAC test in 2015. The suit only sought to end Missouri’s membership in the Consortium and make the public declaration that, as established, SBAC is illegal. The recent legislation says the state will not  use the test results in teacher evaluations or district accreditation determination. The state will consider the assessment a pilot. Since there is neither validity nor reliability data for the SBAC test, no other use of the test results would be valid.

We will remind everyone, for the umteenth time, that the state is doing all of these things:

  • Joining an assessment consortia to develop tests aligned with Common Core
  • Instituting new teacher and principal evaluation systems
  • Collecting student data into the statewide Longitudinal Data System
  • Requiring districts to establish and enforce draconian attendance policies

solely for the purpose of retaining flexiblity in spending 20% of the Title I funds we receive from the federal government which constitute less than 5% of our state education funding.  These measures, and more, are included in the state’s ESEA waiver application.

One of the qualifications for the new Commissioner should be to be a better negotiator.

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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