More SBAC delays: Scores still ‘straggling’ in

Idaho standardized test scores are still “straggling” in, but could be in hand by Monday.

State Department of Education spokesman Jeff Church acknowledged additional delays Wednesday. A day earlier, the Boise School District said it is still waiting for results at every grade level, and challenged the state’s claims that the bulk of the tests have been graded.

And in Boise, this means the district will have to pay to mail the results to parents, at a cost exceeding $10,000.

At issue are results from the new Idaho Standards Achievement Test by Smarter Balanced — better known as SBAC, for the multistate consortium that administers the exam. Students across the state took the online tests from March 30 through May 22, but a series of glitches have plagued the grading process.

On Monday, Church said schools had received all scores on the English language arts phase of the test, and most math scores. He acknowledged delays in fifth- through eighth-grade math scores, due to a shortage of qualified teachers hired to grade the tests.

On Tuesday, Boise spokesman Ryan Hill told Idaho Education News the delays were more widespread than Church suggested.

He said Boise had incomplete English language arts scores from third through eighth grades and 10thgrade — every grade that took the SBAC. Hundreds of Boise math scores were still missing, mostly in fifth through eighth grades. Boise was waiting on 32 percent of its fifth-grade math test scores, one of the grades where the state has acknowledged continued delays, but the district also was missing 18 percent of its fourth-grade math scores.

Church attributed these missing fourth-grade scores to a shortage of graders, the same problem afflicting fifth- through eighth-grade math. On Wednesday, he also said the state was still waiting on “a few straggling scores” in English language arts tests — and said a test vendor had not made the state aware of these additional delays.

The state hired two SBAC vendors: American Institutes for Research, a Washington, D.C.-based company that administered the statewide assessments in Idaho and 10 other states; and Measurement Inc., a test-scoring vendor based in Durham, N.C.

At this point, the grading could be completed by Monday, Church said.

“We are working on the delicate balance of getting the vendor to move the process forward more quickly while also ensuring that scores are being completed and gathered prudently and accurately, the latter being the most important,” he said.

The delays will leave districts scrambling to get results to parents, after the school year is out. Boise schools closed for the summer on June 2, so the district will have to mail out the results this summer, Hill said Wednesday. That will cost the district about $10,000, not including staff time.

The test scores will be closely scrutinized — by parents and stakeholders alike — because the SBAC is a new exam. This is the first year schools and students will be assessed based on results from the SBAC, a test aligned to the Idaho Core Standards.

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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