Twenty questions, more or less, on SBAC

After a heated hearing on a new test aligned to Common Core standards, Chairman John Goedde urged Senate Education Committee members to submit written questions to state education officials.

Sen. Steven Thayn took Goedde up on the suggestion — and with gusto.

Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett

By Thursday morning, Thayn had submitted 19 questions to the State Department of Education. Many were actually multiple questions in one. And they covered many of Thayn’s myriad testing concerns: funding, federal control, reliability and data security. (You can download his questions here.)

The fact that Thayn is grilling Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and his staff on this issue is no surprise. The Emmett Republican, a possible candidate to succeed Luna as superintendent, has already urged the state to walk away from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium — the multistate cooperative writing tests aligned to Common Core. The state will field test the SBAC exam this spring — but the test won’t count, and schools won’t be measured on the results until 2015.

Thayn didn’t just pepper Luna and his staff with questions. He also offered a few suggestions. He wants the state to at least drop the SBAC past eighth grade, and use college entrance exams as a measure of college readiness. He also wants the Legislature to convene hearings with superintendents to discuss shortening the SBAC, a computer test that could take 6 to 7 ½ hours to complete.

State Department of Education staff is working on responses to Thayn’s questions, Luna spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said Friday. To her knowledge, no other senators have submitted questions.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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