The Sioux Falls Argus-Leader reported on Tuesday that a circuit court judge found that the state of South Dakota did not violate any state or federal laws when adopting the Common Core State Standards and joining the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
Two South Dakota parents filed a suit against Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the state in November arguing that South Dakota’s involvement in an multi-state assessment group aligned with Common Core standards was illegal.
Last week, Circuit Court Judge Mark Barnett ruled that the state had not violated any federal or state laws.
“The governor was happy to see the judge agree with the state’s position,” Tony Venhuizen, Daugaard’s chief of staff, said in an email Monday.
Parents Amber Mauricio and Shelli Grinager—the plaintiffs in this case—had alleged that the state’s involvement in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) violated a constitutional clause because it lacked congressional approval. The lawsuit was supported by the Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based group with strong resistance to Common Core standards.
Court documents summarizing the ruling show that participation in SBAC did not require congressional approval.
The state is free to regulate its education policies, including the decision to freely adopt Common Core standards, according to the court documents. Barnett rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the state was coerced into accepting Common Core standards.
Mauricio and Grinager also argued that the nature of Smarter Balanced testing was illegal. Smarter Balanced assessments are “computer-adaptive,” meaning questions either get easier or harder depending on a students’ answers.
The two plaintiffs referenced a South Dakota law that requires public schools to administer the “same assessment to all students.” They said if each student answers different questions, they’re not receiving the same assessment.
Court documents reject that argument, saying that if the legislature intended every student in each grade to answer the same questions, the law would have been more specific. As written, law only requires students take the same “assessment,” not the same “questions.”
In this case in South Dakota when the state wins parents lose. I do hope this ruling is appealed.