State looking at consolidating high school exams

Could Idaho consolidate its high school assessments — using one college-entrance test to meet federal testing requirements?

That’s not a sure thing. But the State Department of Education is looking into the possibility.

The trick is to find a college-entrance exam, be it the SAT or the ACT, that would also satisfy the feds’ standards.

“Early indicators are that either (college-entrance exam) may need to be augmented to meet these requirements,” Nichole Hall, the Education Department’s college and career readiness assessment coordinator, said in an email to district superintendents Friday.

High school students are now expected to complete two testing requirements.

One is the college-entrance exam, a high school graduation requirement. High school juniors are able to take the SAT free of charge — so last month, nearly 19,000 students were expected to take the SAT at a taxpayer cost of more than $800,000.

The state plans to offer free SATs again in 2015-16, Hall wrote.

Ybarra presser, 1.6.15
State superintendent Sherri Ybarra

Meanwhile, high school students are taking the Idaho Standards Achievement Test by Smarter Balanced, an online exam aligned to the new Idaho Core Standards. Under federal education law, states are required to administer an end-of-year assessment — and for this year, at least, the SBAC is Idaho’s assessment of choice.

The fact that the state is shopping for alternatives to SBAC is not a surprise. In a recent interview with Idaho Education News, state superintendent Sherri Ybarra did not commit to the idea of replacing the SBAC in 2016, but educators and parents have voiced their displeasure with the test.

“We’ve heard them loud and clear,” she said.

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