Today’s editorial in The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette highlights the testing woes that Indiana currently faces.
An unsuccessful bidder is crying foul over the state’s award of a three-year, $43.5 million contract to the American Institutes for Research. Data Recognition Corp. claims the state’s assessment director, Charity Flores, had a conflict of interest. Between posts at the Indiana Department of Education, Flores was deputy director of content for Smarter Balanced, a partner to the winning vendor.
Chalkbeat Indiana reports that Data Recognition Corp. has protested the Indiana Department of Administration contract award, also challenging its validity on the grounds it violates the state’s prohibition on use of Common Core State Standards. Smarter Balanced is a state-led consortium created to develop the tests aligned to the Common Core standards. AIR serves as the testing platform for questions developed by the consortium.
The charges offer more evidence of a testing culture gone awry, with entanglements in the so-called “education reform” community compromising well-intentioned efforts to ensure school accountability. The time and money involved are growing along with the frustration for educators.
Data Recognition Corp brings up a good point. For a state that supposedly rejected Common Core (they rebranded it instead), it’s telling they select a vendor who will use questions from the Smarter Balanced test bank to develop Indiana’s new assessment.
So much for the repeal.
Indiana doesn’t have the option of eliminating testing because the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, the replacement for No Child Left Behind, requires a statewide assessment. Nor would it want to eliminate testing, which serves as a check on school performance. But there’s tremendous flexibility with ESSA: States don’t have to administer a major summative test each spring – they can use smaller interim assessments and also evaluate students through portfolios or projects.
I can’t think of a state that is doing that. It would be interesting to see a state take that recommendation and put it in their ESSA accountability plan to see what kind of feedback they receive from the U.S. Department of Education.