Ybarra, SDE officials expect fewer SBAC glitches this year

State superintendent Sherri Ybarra expects fewer problems this year with Idaho’s Common-Core aligned test, an Ybarra aide told the House Education Committee Friday.

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra

Ybarra and Cheryl Finley, the State Department of Education’s assessment director, provided a one-hour briefing on the ISAT 2.0 by Smart Balanced Assessment Consortium test, also known as the SBAC.

Ybarra and Finley summarized the problems that plagued last year’s test — computer glitches; problems adjusting to a new test and testing format; underestimating the number of scorers needed to grade tests and delays in returning results to districts.

Along with rehashing the bad news, they offered an optimistic view of the future. Ybarra said she has worked with SBAC and testing officials to shorten the English language arts and mathematics portions of the test by 30 minutes each.

The state’s vendor and subcontractor, AIR and Measurement Incorporated, also said they have worked through software glitches and will be better prepared to handle the scoring process and will return results to schools within two or three weeks.

Finally, the testing vendor and state officials have developed contingency plans in case of unexpected glitches.

“We don’t anticipate any of the problems,” Finley said. “We have been working diligently with our vendors. We do not anticipate any of these issues with the future.”

State officials said testing took up less than 1 percent of classroom instruction time last year, and estimated it will take about five hours to complete the test this year.

Ybarra reiterated that Idaho schools will administer the test, and the state is still required to test students under the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind.

Additionally, Ybarra said educators have told her they do not want to replace the SBAC immediately, and would like to see whether additional testing data provides greater insights into student learning.

“There is no sense in ripping the rug out from underneath our students,” Ybarra said. “We need enough data to make informed decisions right now.”

On Monday afternoon, Ybarra will return to the Statehouse to make a presentation called “Our Moment, Our Time in Education” to a rare joint session of the House and Senate education committees. On Friday, Ybarra teased out details, suggesting she will discuss the future role of the SAT within the state’s testing portfolio.

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Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Nate introduced a personal bill Friday designed to repeal the SBAC test. Nate’s bill calls on Ybarra to “begin the process of removing Idaho from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium immediately…”

Nate recommends replacing the SBAC with either the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP test) or the SAT.

By introducing the legislation as a personal bill, Nate sidestepped the more traditional legislative process of asking an education committee to formally introduce the bill.

Nate took a similar step last year, but his bill didn’t move forward.

Several other lawmakers introduced personal bills on Friday, the filing deadline.