A provision of the state education budget signed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon cuts off funding for the Smarter Balanced exam and require the state to develop a new test in English/language arts and math.
House Bill 2, which funds the state school board and education department, also directs the department to submit a plan for developing a new “Missouri-based” assessment plan by February of next year. The budget bill also appropriates $7 million to the department to create the new assessment.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that this change to the state’s assessment plans has K-12 officials scrambling to figure out what English/language arts and math tests the state will give next spring, given that the bill doesn’t give the state a great deal of time to develop a new one. Deputy education commission Sharon Helwing told the paper that state officials “still don’t have an answer” about what the state’s next steps are. And Peter Herschend, the president of the state board, lamented the move as a “tragic” one that would force the state to give four different tests over a four-year period.
UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the Missouri department, Nancy Bowles, told me that the state is considering buying an off-the-shelf assessment for the 2015-16 school year in order to replace Smarter Balanced. But as for developing a new test on its own, Bowles said, “We just can’t do that in a year.”
Missouri has had an increasingly complicated relationship with the Smarter Balanced test, which the state administered this spring. Earlier this year, a state judge upheld anti-common-core activists’ claim that Smarter Balanced was an “unlawful interstate compact.” However, at the time the department said that the ruling wouldn’t ultimately stop the state from administering the test this spring.
The state is also in the middle of an official review of the Common Core State Standards. The results of that review, and any tweaks or significant changes to the common core, are slated to be done in time to impact the 2016-17 school year. But a separate Post-Dispatch story details that this review process is having trouble with workgroup attendance and other issues.
Missouri is one of 18 states to give the Smarter Balanced test for the 2014-15 school year, as you can see on the map below. But how different will that testing map look for the 2015-16 school year? UPDATE: On June 2, the Connecticut legislature approved legislation to end the requirement for high school juniors to take Smarter Balanced. The bill now heads to Gov. Dannel Malloy for his signature.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.